Finding a consultancy

If you’re looking for an expert in ergonomics and human factors, you could start by defining your needs and matching them to details in our directory of consultancies.

We maintain a directory of ‘Registered Consultancies’. All those in this directory have been assessed by us against a strict set of professional and business criteria. This helps to maintain the high standard of membership of the Institute and provides a level of assurance to those employing a consultancy from this list. Some consultancies may take on a wide range of work and some may specialise. They all have different project experience and different expertise and each consultancy has its own details on this website that you can read before deciding which one to contact. If you have not commissioned an ergonomist or human factors professional from a consultancy before, the following step-by-step advice might be useful to you.

1. Think about why you need a consultant

There may be one or more simple reasons, such as…

  • One of your staff is complaining of aches and pains and you think that some advice about their workplace set up may help.
  • You want to fulfill your legal obligations and have your staff trained in recognising, assessing and reducing risks to their health and safety.

Or the reasons may be more difficult to define, such as…

  • You think that your industrial processes could be made more efficient but you’re not sure where and how changes should be made.
  • You are designing a new product or redesigning an existing one and you need to organise some questionnaires and user trials but your resources are limited.

Try to list your key requirements and to prioritise them.

2. Look at our list of areas of work and try to match them to your needs

Ergonomics and human factors can be applied to a vast range of work and leisure situations and we have categorised different ‘areas of work’ which each require certain expertise. Each Registered Consultancy is asked to pick their top 10 areas of work that best reflects their experience and skills. Look through the list at the end of this page and try to identify which area of work most closely matches your needs. You’ll find examples of work situations given with each area. You can then use the area of work and keywords to search the list. There will be a number of consultancies that will have selected a particular area of work so you will need to look up the details of each one to make a choice about who to contact.

3. Think about other aspects which are important to you

Each consultancy is listed with details of the contact’s name, telephone and email, where the business is based, when it was set up, how many ergonomists and human factors professionals it employs and an overview of the type of work that it does. There is also a complete list of the consultancy’s chosen areas of work. While most consultants will be happy to travel to wherever the work is, you might prefer to contact an one who is based near you.

4. Make a list of at least three consultancies that fit your needs

You should have a shortlist so that you can get further information from each consultancy and make a choice based on fees charged or availability, for example.

5. Contact each consultancy on your shortlist

Preferably make contact with the ergonomist by telephone as it will be easier and quicker to discuss your requirements, especially if you’re still unsure as to exactly what work it is that you need carried out. If the work appears to be fairly straightforward, such as an office workstation assessment, for example, you may be able to decide who you want to do the work at this stage. You may be able to make arrangements for a meeting or visit at the same time, and agree costs and timescales. However, if the work is to be a larger project or appears to be more complex, you will probably need to carry out the following steps.

6. Prepare a written brief which sets out your needs as clearly and concisely as possible

Don’t be too specific about particular methods or techniques unless you’re sure about them, but give as much detail as you can. The consultant will usually need to gain a good understanding of the work before deciding which methods will be appropriate. You may also find it useful to ask for any company brochures or other literature.

7. Invite written proposals against the brief from each consultancy on your shortlist

The proposals that consultancies supply will clearly describe the methods that they will use and the rationale for them, the costs and timescales, and examples of their experience on similar projects. In some cases, it may be helpful for the consultant to meet you, preferably in the workplace where the work is to be carried out, in order to gain a better understanding of the issues before quoting.

8. Review the proposals and make your decision

Don’t worry about contacting a consultant to further discuss the work before you make a decision, they will be happy to talk it over with you. Once you have decided who you would like to carry out the work, contact them and send a written confirmation of the work and agreed fees and timescales.

9. If you’re still unsure, call us for further advice

We may be able to offer you further assistance directly or to put you in touch with an someone who is happy to discuss the work of ergonomists and human factors professionals more generally, so contact us for further advice.

Areas of work

COMPUTER WORK

Area of work: Computer terminals – design and layout
Do your staff suffer from repetitive strain injuries of the wrist, or back pain as a result of using their computer? Ergonomists can make them more comfortable and productive by helping them to adjust and arrange their computer and workstation to better suit them and their work, and to comply with the Display Screen Equipment Regulations. Ergonomists can help you to select suitable seating and other office furniture and equipment.
Keywords: design and layout of computer products and peripherals; computer terminal workstations; display screen equipment and regulations; display screen health and safety; DSE and manual handling; compliance surveys; DSE ergonomics assessments; VDUs and offices.

Area of work: Office ergonomics and design
Your office space costs you money. Are you using it most effectively? Ergonomists can assess your business work flow, staff communications and storage requirements and advise you how to increase work efficiency, and staff productivity and comfort.
Keywords: office automation; office and office equipment design; office design ergonomics; DSE ergonomics.

Area of work: Computer software ergonomics
Do you find your bespoke computer programmes frustrating or difficult to use? Ergonomists can suggest improvements in data input, screen layout, navigation and overall system design.
Keywords: software design; software development; software ergonomics; implementation and usability.

Area of work: Human Computer Interface design and assessment
Do you need some input on human sensory and cognitive capabilities in order to ensure that your interface and instructions are easy to use and understand? Ergonomists can provide you with data and examples to optimise your design and suggest and run effective user trials.
Keywords: design and development of human-computer interfaces; knowledge-based systems; production of human-computer interface style guides; HCI/MMI prototyping; GUI prototyping.

HEALTH & SAFETY

Area of work: Risk assessment: various work situations
Are you and your staff aware of all potential risks in your workplace? Risk assessment is a vital part of any health and safety programme but it doesn’t stop there. Risks must be reduced and managed. Ergonomists can help you to identify risks and take appropriate action and can help in the education of your workforce.
Keywords: risk and cost-benefit analysis; risk assessment and risk management; risk perception; general musculoskeletal risk.

Area of work: Manual handling of loads: safety and training
Incorrect techniques used in lifting and moving loads can increase the risk of injury to your workers. Ergonomists can help you to assess the manual handling requirements in your workplace and can suggest practical solutions involving staff training, load design, and lifting and moving aids and equipment.
Keywords: manual handling assessment and training; manual handling and lifting; manual handling of loads.

Area of work: Work related musculoskeletal problems
Do you or your staff suffer from aches and pains or other symptoms that seem to be brought on by your work? These might occur in the hands, arms, or back or other areas depending on the work and workstation layout involved. Ergonomists can help you to investigate problems and suggest measures for risk reduction including workplace layout, equipment design, job rotation and staff awareness.
Keywords: musculoskeletal disorders; repetitive strain injury; management of work-related musculoskeletal problems; upper limb disorders.

Area of work: Accidents, health and safety at work
Do you need some help with investigation of a workplace accident? Do you have complex health and safety issues? Ergonomists can help you to gather data about hazard perception and ergonomic approaches to health and safety implementation.
Keywords: accidents and safety; accident investigations; accident reconstructions; health and safety; healthcare ergonomics; hazard analysis; health and safety issues; the application of health and safety legislation; industrial work stress; machine guarding; safety culture and safety management; safety culture evaluation and improvement; alarms and warnings technology; probabilistic safety analysis.

Area of work: Human reliability
You can identify and learn from shortcomings and take steps to improve your business by investigating incidents and accidents. Ergonomists can assess your staff’s abilities and limitations in relation to their work and their potential for error. They can help you to increase your workers’ reliability and reduce the likelihood and consequences of error.
Keywords: human error and reliability; human error analysis; human factors audits; human factors integration; human reliability assessment.

TRAINING

Area of work: Training for management and staff
Ergonomists can assess your training requirements and tailor and deliver courses in ergonomics, health & safety, manual handling, risk assessment etc., to ensure that you receive training that is highly relevant and meaningful.
Keywords: ergonomics training; general training; cognitive skills/decision taking; training engineers; training in STUDIO; training modules; training needs analysis.

EXPERT WITNESS

Area of work: Expert witnesses: various work situations
Ergonomists can help with investigation of workplace problems which have led to accidents and injury. They can act as expert witnesses for the defence, prosecution or as a joint expert.
Keywords: expert witness investigations; forensic ergonomics; industrial compensation claims; injury litigation; injury causation; litigation support.

INDUSTRIAL DESIGN AND WORK

Area of work: Design and layout of displays and controls
Ergonomists can assess work flow and work load and suggest design and layout improvements to control rooms and control equipment. This can increase work efficiency and reduce the potential for errors in reading displays or operating controls.
Keywords: selection and design of controls and information displays.

Area of work: Design of control rooms
Successful control room design requires a detailed understanding of both technical considerations and operator abilities and interaction. Ergonomists can help you assess user needs and develop plans, and carry out user trials.
Keywords: console and control room layout and design; control room ergonomics.

Area of work: Industrial design applications
Ergonomists can look at seating and workstation design to help you to maximise production quality whilst ensuring that staff can work efficiently and comfortably.
Keywords: information design; market/user research; medical equipment; seat design and comfort; seating design and specifications; furniture specification and selection.

Area of work: Industrial/commercial workplace design
Is your manufacturing plant as efficient as it could be? Ergonomists can analyse job and task design, workplace and workstation design, and workload and suggest changes to benefit workers and the business.
Keywords: industrial workplace design; industrial ergonomics; job design and work organisation; anthropometry and workplace design; workplace and workstation design; warnings, labels and instructions; workload analysis.

PRODUCT DESIGN

Area of work: Product design and consumer ergonomics
Do you really know who your ‘users’ are and what they really want from your product? Ergonomists can help give you that competitive edge by identifying your users and their needs and incorporating this knowledge into your design at an early stage. They can help you to ensure that your product will be safe and ‘fit for purpose’.
Keywords: ergonomics sales and marketing; product design and testing; product ergonomics; product development; product liability and safety; product defects; product education material; personal protective clothing.

Area of work: Usability assessment
Prototyping and user testing are vitally important stages of product design and development in today’s competitive markets. Do you know your ‘users’ and their abilities and limitations? Ergonomists can set up and carry out user trials to ensure that your products are ‘user-friendly’.
Keywords: usability assessment and testing; usability audits; usability evaluation; usability training; trials and verification; simulation and trials; simulation development; simulation and prototyping.

Area of work: User requirements and guidance
You may already produce great products but does your information design receive as much attention as your product design? Complex products can be made simpler by the provision of easy to use and understand instructions. Ergonomists can advise on language, layout, use of graphics, use of colour etc. to ensure that users can appreciate the features and functions of your products.
Keywords: user documentation; user guidance; user manuals and instructions; user interface design and prototyping; user requirements analysis and specification; conduct of user trials.

WORK DESIGN

Area of work: Anatomy and anthropometry in human activities
Ergonomists can assess and design your workplace to meet the needs of all your workers in terms of their ‘fit’ at their workstation, and their access into, out of and around the building. They can assess and help you to adapt your workplace for compliance with the Disability Discrimination Act.
Keywords: anatomy; anthropometry; anthropometry and workplace design; biomechanics; design for the physically disabled; postural and biomechanical loading; slips, trips and falls; back pain; disabled access audits.

Area of work: Physiological aspects and medical ergonomics
Is your work labour-intensive and are you physically up to the job? Ergonomists can assess the organisational, physical and psychological requirements of work and suggest alternative approaches that will reduce risks of injury and fatigue whilst improving system efficiency. This approach can be applied to medicine and health settings where both the needs of patients and carers can be optimised.
Keywords: physiology; physical capabilities; medical ergonomics; medical equipment; psychophysiology; behavioural expectations; standards of reasonable conduct.

Area of work: Cognitive ergonomics and complex tasks
Does your team work well together? Are your procedures efficient and do they take account of your workers’ mental abilities? Ergonomists can investigate the cognitive requirements of work and assess whether they match the abilities of the workers involved.
Keywords: cognitive skills and decision making; forensic human factors; team work and groups; procedure development.

Area of work: Task analysis
Jobs are made up of individual tasks that should combine to allow your workers to make an obvious and valuable contribution to your company’s business. Ergonomists can analyse tasks for their efficiency and suggest improvements in workplace layout and equipment, and worker selection and training.
Keywords: task analysis and job design; task analysis and synthesis; team work and groups.

Area of work: Systems analysis
Do your business systems integrate smoothly? Are you using your resources efficiently – including premises, equipment and personnel? Ergonomists can assess your business and communication systems and help you to make practical and acceptable changes.
Keywords: systems analysis and design; systems integration; systems requirements capture; telecommunications systems and products; human-machine systems; Manprint; manning studies; 3-D man-modelling; experimental design; system design standards and specifications; communications analysis.

ORGANISATIONAL MANAGEMENT

Area of work: Management and ergonomics
Introducing change can be difficult. Ergonomists can advise on change acceptance and management. Are you trying to introduce an ergonomics policy? Ergonomists can help you to formulate an effective policy, with the involvement of staff and managers.
Keywords: change management; cost-benefit analysis; emergency responses; implementation of ergonomics strategies; operator performance; operator workload analyses; standardisation and standards; human resource management; work programmes; ergonomics policy and practice.

Area of work: Sociotechnical systems and ergonomics
Staff are the most important asset in any organisation. Ensure that organisational changes are made effectively and with the support and participation of your staff by getting an ergonomist to assist in the change process.
Keywords: organisational behaviour, organisational change, organisational psychology, participative ergonomics, ergonomics strategies, sociotechnical systems, violations assessment, motivation.

TRANSPORT

Area of work: Vehicle and transport ergonomics
Ergonomists can assist vehicle designers and transport operators by helping to design driver and passenger compartments, vehicle displays and control systems, seating, and safety and emergency procedures.
Keywords: aviation; helicopter ergonomics; helmet displays; passenger environments; rail vehicles and systems; transport design; vehicle design; vehicle ergonomics; vehicle safety.

THE ENVIRONMENT

Area of work: Environmental ergonomics
Are your staff affected by lighting, heating, ventilation or noise problems in your workplace? Ergonomists can assess the effect of these and suggest changes in design or protective equipment that will improve conditions.
Keywords: environmental conditions and factors; noise surveys; hearing loss at work; thermal environments; visibility and lighting; working environment ergonomics; vibration.

PROJECTS

Area of competence: Specific ergonomics applications
Ergonomics consultancies may have a particular area of expertise such as nuclear power, military ergonomics, military systems, process containment, process control, etc. Read the description listed with each consultancy under this heading to learn more about their specific areas of expertise.
Keywords: nuclear power; military ergonomics; military systems; process containment and process control; literature surveys; survey and research methods; automatic speech recognition.