Ergonomists employ a variety of scientific techniques and problem-solving skills to ensure that the designs of systems, equipment and facilities provide the best levels of efficiency, comfort and health and safety for anyone using them.
By scientifically studying the relationship between people, environments and equipment, ergonomists use their findings to improve human interaction with processes and systems.
Types of work
Areas of work include:
- information and advanced technology
- product/equipment design
- production systems
- transport design.
Employers of Ergonomists
Ergonomists are employed by a wide range of public and private sector organisations including government bodies, computer consultancies, hospitals, universities, research institutes, utilities companies, safety/consumer laboratories and manufacturing/process companies.
- analysing the interaction between people and machinery/equipment
- assessing the design of products/systems via practical experiments and making them easier to use
- identifying problems by observing and interviewing individuals in particular environments
- undertaking risk assessments within the workplace
- assessing the effect of work environments on employees
- ensuring that products/systems meet user needs
- collecting, analysing and interpreting data/statistics
- identifying possible improvements and designing/implementing appropriate solutions
- compiling and presenting information verbally and in writing
- assessing health and safety standards
- investigating workplace accidents
- writing user manuals
- offering information, advice, training and recommendations to clients
- liaising with other professionals such as health specialists and designers
To work as an ergonomist you normally need either an undergraduate or postgraduate degree in ergonomics/human factors.
For entry via the postgraduate route, a degree in a relevant subject is usually required. Examples include:
- biology/physiological sciences
- computer science/software engineering
- engineering, e.g. manufacturing, industrial and mechanical
- health sciences
- industrial design
- operational research
- physiotherapy/occupational therapy
- sports science.
Employers look for a high standard of academic qualifications.
- a good level of numeracy
- the ability to understand technical concepts
- an interest in people’s behaviour in different situations
- problem-solving skills
- a systematic approach to studying people in their work environment and producing research
- the capacity to work well with people at all levels
- effective communication and negotiation skills.