Ergonomics Society of South Africa (ESSA)

Ergonomics Society of South Africa (ESSA)

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Dr. Jessica Hutchings (President and IEA Representative)

Dr Jonathan Davy (Vice President)

Mrs. Sally Classen (Secretary)

Recent Activities

The ESSA Council for the 2017 – 2020 term of office were elected in September 2017 following the society’s first combined conference of the 3rd African Symposium on Human Factors and Aviation Safety, the 13th Ergonomics Society of South Africa conference and the 1st Ergo Africa conference. Following this successful conference, which included keynotes from Professor Paul Salmon and Professor Peter Hancock, the society is looking to host again in Cape Town, South Africa in 2019. The first strategy meeting of the newly formed committee was held in January 2018. The main outcomes of this meeting were the need to professionalise the society further, grow membership (through collaboration with cognate disciplines and by starting a student chapter), hold more awareness raising events and workshops aimed at creating a demand for Ergonomics / Human Factors (E/HF) and to continue to register professionals through the expanded Professional Affairs Board (PAB).

A significant development for E/HF in South Africa has been the Department of Labour’s release of draft Ergonomics Regulations in 2017. While there is still significant work to be done, this is an exciting achievement for the field of E/HF in South Africa. This has resulted in a growing interest in the field of Ergonomics. This was exemplified by a very important session which formed part of the ESSA Conference (mentioned above), where allied professionals (Occupational Hygienists, Occupational Therapists, Physiotherapists, Biokineticists and Occupational Medical Practitioners), discussed the roles and responsibilities of their respective professions in carrying out the work of Ergonomics, and also the importance that these regulations will have on businesses and industries.

Pertaining to the idea of professionalisation of the society, and to ensure that the society remains relevant in South Africa, ESSA, first and foremost, is exploring how to be recognised as a professional body with the South Africa Qualifications Authority (SAQA). This is vital for the society to make its mark as the body representing qualified and professional E/HF professionals in the country.

ESSA also needs to grow its membership. Currently, we have 50 – 70 paid up members. The more members we can attract, this will allow us to be in a better position to increase our offerings to our members and also generate additional funds for awareness raising events and workshops. ESSA also has a fundamental role to play in the education of E/HF, and this will require workshops, webinars and conferences.

In summary, the below are some of the activities achieved by the society since the induction of the new committee in 2017:

• We have established three Special Interest Groups (SIG) pertaining to Ergonomics in Aviation, Rail and Healthcare. At this stage, the society is trying to grow interest in these areas.
• The society has hosted a Fatigue Management Workshop to which roughly 60 delegates attended. This saw a collaborative effort between various tertiary institutions (Rhodes University and University of the Witwatersrand) and industrial partners (the Railway Safety Regulator, South African Airways and BSS Africa).
• The society has also achieved its tax emption status which was necessary from a financial reporting perspective but also for receiving payments from government organisations and industry.
• The society has active representatives on both the BRICS Plus and Ergo Africa networks.
• The society has engaged with important stakeholders, such as the Department of Labour with whom, we have a Memorandum of Understanding that requires quarterly engagements.
• Members of the society have been involved in various advocacy and awareness raising events including presenting at the Annual Health and Safety Expo, radio interviews, quarterly newsletters circulated to all members and interested parties to create awareness about E/HF.
• Ergonomics South Africa (ESA) Journal which is published bi-annually highlighting both academic and practitioners’ work in the field of E/HF.
• The ESSA Council has also worked very closely with the PAB to ensure timeous and efficient registration of professionals in E/HF while encouraging more applications for Certified Professional Ergonomists (CPE’s) and Certified Ergonomics Associates (CEA’s).

The ESSA Council has since its existence depended on a small group of volunteers to manage and grow the society. We acknowledge that this has been a challenge as we have not had the resources to outsource this function. We have realised, reflected and recognized that in order to be in a position where we have the financial and human resources, the society needs to implement a number of initiatives. This includes: growing our membership, increase our offerings to appeal to a wide audience, be the society of choice for those with a very keen interest in E/HF, and build positive relationships with many allied disciplines and interest groups.

Our future objectives will include finalising our SAQA registration, implementing an interactive and user friendly website, hosting more workshops and webinars to grow the awareness of the discipline and work more closely with our allied professions and professional networks. By achieving this, this will enable ESSA to be the recognised body for E/HF in South Africa, and Africa.

Jessica Hutchings
ESSA President