Ergonomics is an in-demand and value-added service that adds to your income stream, so you might be thinking, why not jump into it? 

Learning how to start doing quality office ergonomic assessments can be challenging for many. But ergonomics assessment skills, just like anything else, is a skill that can be improved and honed through practice. Repetition is key, and with the right strategies, you’ll be able to start charging clients for your services. Fortunately, there are a couple of strategies you can follow to make learning ergonomics feel less challenging. In this post, I’ll be sharing with you a 3-step strategy that’ll help you get great at doing ergonomics assessments, no matter if you're doing it in the office or industry.

Practice the Trade

Whether you’re just considering jumping into ergonomics, or you’ve already decided it’s what you want to do and you’re ready to make the first steps, you’re maybe asking yourself: how do I get started? 

When it comes to learning anything new, whether it’s something as simple as learning how to ride a bike, or as complicated as marketing your business, you need to expose yourself to the skill you want to learn and practice the trade repeatedly. Just like you won’t know how to ride a skateboard just by watching others and reading about it, you can’t deliver quality office ergonomic assessments just by learning strategies and best practices. Learning by doing is crucial to mastering ergonomic assessment. 

Yes, it takes some time to become comfortable enough and have confidence in your abilities doing ergonomic assessments, but it’s important not to cut any corners. Because for every aspect of the ergonomic process you have to carry out, you need to know exactly how to do it the best way possible. You might feel unsure about some things at first, but you'll get it over time if you keep exposing yourself. When you do your first assessments, you'll understand the process, but you probably won't be very good at it. After a couple of years, you’ll probably get really good at it. And then if you do some more, you'll eventually go from good to great.

Now, let’s talk about the steps on how to get started in this. Below are the three best pieces of advice you’ll find on how to get good at doing ergonomics assessments.

The 3-Step Strategy

1. Improve Your Skill

Remember that ergonomics is a skill. And if it's a skill, then we can get better with deliberate practice. Before you start improving any skill, I want you to consider how you’re going to measure your progress. Is it when you feel confident doing an assessment? Is it the duration of time to complete the assessment? If you don’t measure your progress, you won't know you're getting somewhere. Each baby step you take is progress. I personally love the idea of looking at both the report writing time and my confidence in doing assessments. 

Practice makes perfect. It may seem like an obvious point, but this is really the biggest barrier that stands between people who want to get started doing ergonomics assessments and those who are actually doing it. Some people want to add ergonomics to increase their revenue stream but don't want to take the time to really learn it. Without sufficient practice, you can’t develop your skills. It’s not something you can do just once and then expect great results. 

I love the idea of setting a time to go to friends and family and ask them if you can do a trial ergonomics assessment on them so you can get that repetition. You’ll probably find out from doing 2-3 assessments of them that you're going to need a little more practice before you can start charging. So getting the practice rounds in before you can start charging is a definite must.

Seeking continuous feedback is essential. Conducting ergonomic assessments doesn’t mean you have to work in a vacuum. Learning ergonomics requires a feedback loop. Constantly receiving feedback allows you to review what went well, where you’re doing wrong, or what aspect you need to improve next time. One of my favorite things to do is to get feedback from people who are already doing ergonomics assessments. A useful tip you can do is to get your report redacted, remove all personal identifying aspects of the client that you've assessed, and get them to review your report. That expert will help narrow down things that you can improve. I do this as part of my OEA certification, where I look at how people are doing their ergonomics assessments, identify the root cause of the issue, and we walk through improvements. When you're first starting out, identifying the root cause is where most people usually make a mistake.

Focus on things you need to improve. Narrow in and focus on parts of your process that aren't flowing great for you. Maybe you're making more mistakes in certain areas when you're doing an ergonomic assessment. Make sure to narrow in and pour as much attention into those areas as possible. You’re going to get more results down the line instead of continuously doing the things that you're already good at.

2. Get A Mentor 

Getting a mentor who can help you write the analysis and recommendation part of your reports should be one of your top priorities. I've had many mentors that have helped me get to where I needed to go much quicker, with way better improvements. Motivational speaker J. Loren Norris perfectly sums up how they addressed this need: “If you cannot see where you're going, ask someone who has been there before.” 

As an Ergonomics Consultant, you'll encounter hundreds of scenarios that accomplished ergonomists have already encountered. They've wrestled with it, and they've overcome it. So find a mentor who is where you want to be and learn from their decades of experience. All their knowledge, connections, and the support you’ll acquire will be invaluable. You won't be able to get those tidbits of knowledge from anywhere else. Being mentored will really save you the headache of making those mistakes that could take up a lot of your time and result in more stress for you. After getting continuous feedback from your mentor, you'll eventually notice problems in your own assessments and improve them accordingly.

3. Invest in Yourself 

There are three things that you can do to invest in yourself as someone who wants to improve in ergonomics or make a career out of it.

  • Take courses on how to do ergonomics assessments. This is the best way to learn all the ins and outs of conducting ergonomic assessments. Taking ergonomic courses will help you gain a more in-depth understanding of common injuries, the process involved with assessing work, assessment tools for assessing work, common ergonomic solutions, products, etc.
  • Attend conferences. Sometimes you need to take a break from work to sharpen your skills, and a really great way to do this is by attending conferences, either virtually or in person. Conferences allow you to meet experts, industry leaders, and vendors. Take some time to search if there are any conferences that would be of interest. If you’re looking to gain some new techniques or tools that you can use in your next assessment, then attending conferences can give you the information you actually need.
  • Join organizations. Is there any relevant organization for ergonomics that you can join in your community? Joining an organization will open up possibilities to expand your network, learn what’s new in the industry, and further your own knowledge in ergonomics. 

What’s Next?

If you’re interested in learning how to do quality office ergonomics assessments, I can help you. On Saturday, August 13th, I'm going to be hosting a FREE webinar that shows you how to jumpstart your office ergonomics assessments. I'll show you what works, what doesn't work, and how to get results faster. The webinar is just two days away! So if learning how to do office ergonomics is on your priority list, I encourage you to register today to save your spot (spots are limited).


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