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Exploring the knowledge, skills, abilities and other factors of ergonomics advisors
journal contributionposted on 30.09.2011, 13:06 by Claire Williams, Roger Haslam
This paper presents the findings of a focus group study garnering the opinions of three groups of experienced ergonomists about what characteristics make for a good (as opposed to a poor) professional in their field and if any further characteristics define what it is to be expert. Asking ergonomists their opinion provided themes that could usefully be categorised into the ‘knowledge, skills and abilities and other factors’ taxonomy. The four characteristics identified across all three groups were having practical (not just theoretical) knowledge, taking a holistic/systematic approach, being observant/perceptive and having good communication skills. Whilst the first two of these characteristics could be acquired from an academic course with work placement opportunities, the second two are unlikely to form part of a formal ergonomics training course, though arguably they should. The implications of these findings for the training and practice of ergonomists and other professionals using ergonomics are discussed. Identifying the skills required for high level performance as an ergonomics advisor is of paramount importance for both the education and practice of ergonomics professionals. This work adds to the body of knowledge about how best to support and train new and experienced professionals in the discipline.