Guidelines for Hiring Ergonomic Consultants

Hiring the right consultant involves finding them, interviewing them either by phone or preferably in person, and of course establishing the guidelines by which you will work with each other. Know your rights and responsibilities in hiring consultants.

The link to Ergonomic Vendor Consultants is listed at the end of this document.

1. Determine whether you need a consultant

Take the time to determine specifics of the problem you face, the exact objective you want to accomplish and a time frame for doing so. Consider whether your immediate "problem" is a symptom of a larger problem. By carefully thinking things through, you may discover that you don't need an outsider to identify the true problem and solution.

2. Interview the consultant before hiring them

Get a general feel for the background of each consultant candidate via a phone conversation. Know what to ask them. Find out the following:

  • What is their experience in the type of ergonomic consultation similar to the one you or your employee(s) need? (e.g. lab work, food service, office areas, etc.)
  • Do they have an established track record? Ask for information on the following items.
    • Years in business
    • Doing similar consultations
    • List of clients and recent references for similar consultations
  • What formal education/training in ergonomics services do they have?
  • Are they willing to do only part of the ergonomic work (e.g. a workstation evaluation, but not the choosing of equipment or installation)?
  • If you need complete services, can they provide all those needed within the UW system?
  • What is their availability? Does it work for your time frame for finding a solution? Can they provide services at a time convenient to you, your employee and your workplace?
  • What are their fees? Clearly spell out all fees. Consultants can charge a fixed fee or an hourly rate. Hourly rates could raise your costs substantially, so ask the consultant to put a ceiling on the job to cap your expenses. Is travel time included in the consultation fees? Are there separate charges beyond the assessment, such as report writing, design services, ordering of products, installation or demonstration services, etc.?

3. Ask for the following information in writing before agreeing to the services:

  • A detailed description of the services they will provide.
  • When they will provide them.
  • A list of all who will be providing services. Check the name(s) of the approved consultants under the Vendor Contact Information.
  • The agreed upon price for all services.
  • A list of what will be provided after the consultation services, that may include:
    • A written report and a statement of who will receive copies.
    • Recommendations of equipment.
    • Installation services.
    • Equipment demonstrations.

4. Get several estimates

Remember, the least expensive bid is not necessarily the best choice. Donít be pressured to accept services from any consultant you speak with.

5. Be proactive during the assessment itself

Remember that the consultant is hired by YOU. Make certain to answer any questions they ask of you fully, so that they have all the information necessary to make knowledgeable recommendations. Assure that all of your questions are answered, either during the assessment or in the report.

6. State your expectations for post consultation

  • Agree to the date you can expect to receive the written report with recommendations.
  • Ask for clear statements in the recommendations regarding any products or equipment. The consultant should provide a description of the needs and parameters any product or equipment should have versus naming one specific brand or type. The UW furniture list shows what is available under UW contract rates with many equipment and furniture vendors. These rates are often considerably lower than costs of items bought direct.
  • Request that all recommendations be prioritized for both health/safety risks. The consultant needs to include references for any regulations that apply. Each recommendation should also include the feasibility of implementation for both cost and work achievability.

7. Evaluate the vendor/consultant after you have worked with them

Pass along any information that might be helpful for others who are looking for similar ergonomic assistance.

To find an ergonomic vendor consultant, please refer to the Puget Sound Chapter of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society consultants list: Ergo Vendor Information