Answers courtesy of William W. Banks, Jr., CIE, Executive Director Oxford Research Institute (note: some answers have been edited for brevity)
Q: What is the goal of ORI’s certification?
A: Overall, ORI’s goals are to assure that CIEs and CHFEPs are experienced, rigorously tested, and competent to provide the ergonomic service in the specialty area for which they were certified and that their deliverable work products have been peer reviewed for scientific, quantitative and technical merit by a committee of qualified ergonomic peers and found to be acceptable.
Q: What makes ORI’s program different than other certifying programs?
A: You can go to another organization and get a certification for a day or two day course, but to be effective, you must have quantitative work samples. Take assessments, measure the results, and quantify it, but 5000 evaluations don’t do any good if you don’t get feedback. You have to have feedback, otherwise you can never learn. We’re rigorous about that. We want demonstrated competencies.
ORI was founded in 1977 and hence is the oldest “non profit ergonomic certification and university accrediting agency in the U.S.” to provide this service. ORI began designating a specific specialty to all CIE and CHFEP certificate holders in 1997. ORI is a federally recognized non-profit educational corporation whereas other certification providers simply use the term “certification” to mean that a person attended a few days of training. Many of these providers are really in it for profit and interested primarily in money, not ergonomics.
ORI is also the only certifying body that provides objective product testing to verify that a commercial product meets certain ergonomic design criteria, or is compliant with the Federal Americans-with-Disabilities-Act (1974 and amended in 1998).
Q: For whom is ORI’s certification appropriate?
A: In some situations, [employers] are looking for people who are already certified. Certification doesn’t mean that you’re the only the person who can do it, but we provide a good service for people who have proven and know they can do it.
ORI’s certification may be appropriate to individuals who work in the field of ergonomics, Human Factors Engineering, end user testing, injury prevention, equipment/product design, workers comp claims reduction, human error prevention or mitigation, safety, and other related fields who are properly trained, educated, and can demonstrate measured skill and experience requirements in the identification, reduction, mitigation, and removal of a wide range of ergonomic risks related to safety, performance, efficiency, productivity, and injury/error abatement.
Q: How do ORI-certified ergonomists keep their certificates current?
A: Each certificate holder must earn 2.0 CEUs every 24 months until they reach the age of 65, leave the profession or retire. People who are full-time professors who teach ergonomics for a living are exempt from this requirement since they must keep abreast of the field as a part of their teaching positions. The CEUs can be met by attending most ergonomic workshops seminars or symposia conducted by universities, colleges, the HF&E Society, IEEE, ASME, IE, safety organizations or other approved providers.
Q: What other types of products/certifications does ORI participate in?
A: ORI sponsors four to five ergonomics and ergonometric training courses per year. ORI initially started teaching courses to the general public to educate them on ergonomics. Then the public wanted other courses.
You don’t, however, have to take our course to get certified. But it turns out we’ve seen 12 to 18 percent higher scores on the ORI certification exam [for people who have taken the ORI training course] than for those who didn’t take it.
ORI also offers university accreditation to ergonomic and human factors engineering programs that meet certain measurable criteria.
This article originally appeared in The Ergonomics Report™ on 2004-02-01.