Does this picture seem familiar? It may even reflect how you are sitting right now. Now you may even be rearranging your sitting position as you are reading this. As a blogger and marketing consultant I spend a lot of time sitting down in front of a computer typing away and taking calls. I am guilty of improper posture myself. Since one of my coworkers, who is around of my same age, got diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome and had to go through a very invasive surgery, I have taken several steps towards improving the ergonomics from my workspace at both the office and home.
In the process of doing so, I have realized that if you are looking for to start a business with a high potential for success, and one that can change lives for the better, entrepreneurs should consider the world of ergonomic consulting.
The Market and Demand
In a nutshell, ergonomic consultants advise businesses on how to work efficiently to increase worker productivity, while decreasing worker injury rates. You can apply ergonomic principles to a multitude of work environments – from the factory floor, to the board room, to the kitchen at your local pizza parlor. Recent statistics show that there there is a definite need for ergonomic consultants in the US and UK:
- The UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) reports an estimated 591,000 workers were injured at work in 2011 and 2012. Of these workers, approximately 212,000 missed at least three workdays due to their injuries, and approximately 156,000 missed seven days or more. The injuries fall into several categories including slip and fall injuries, repetitive stress and lifting injuries, and other, unspecified injuries. Carpal tunnel syndrome may fall under the unspecified injuries category.
- The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports similar numbers with an estimated 117 per 10,000 workers reporting days off due to a work-related injury or illness.
These rates of injury and absence not only affect worker productivity, they affect the company’s bottom line in a multitude of ways.A company that offers paid-time-off is paying workers to not work; companies that rely heavily on rigid employee scheduling must run short-staffed during peak hours; and, high employee absences also put strain on the remaining employees, which can result in more workplace incidents.
So, a consultant practice that can show a company how to avoid these pitfalls would be high in demand.
How to Become an Ergonomic Consultant
Ergonomic consultants need training in body mechanics, kinesiology, and anatomy. Some consultants start off with degrees in occupational or physical therapy, however, those who do not can receive training through certification programs.
In the US, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) both offer Ergonomics Certifications, and other training for individuals seeking careers in ergonomics. The Board of Certified Professional Ergonomists (BCPE) also offers training and certification for individuals holding Bachelor or Masters degrees from accredited universities.
In the UK, COPE offers training courses on workplace ergonomics and other facets of occupational health. UK residents can also contact the Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors to get accreditation yourself, or your practice.
Of course, you can always forgo getting certification and take on a managerial role instead. You can hire people with the requisite training and professional backgrounds to do the actual hands-on consulting, while you handle all of the work behind the scenes. However, even if you opt for a managerial role, you should have some ergonomic coursework under your belt. Because the more you know and understand, the better you can manage your business and people. So, consider a weekend course, or self-study with ergonomic text books.
Equally important is to become well versed with the vendors that provide ergonomic solutions in your local market. Having this knowledge will allow you to better advise your clients on how to make their businesses more efficient at a reasonable cost. Also keep in mind online based ergonomic retailers like www.sitbetter.com so that you can always get several quotes for your clients. This way you can show both that you are performing proper due diligence and acting in the best interest of your clients.
Given the statistics on costs due to workplace injuries, there is a big opportunity for entrepreneurs to help companies take preventive measures through ergonomic consultancy.
Image Source: Dr. Stephanie Maj