Ergonomics Society of South Africa (ESSA)

ESSA is a non-profit organisation and a federated member of the IEA. It was established with the objective of being an association for professionals in HFE and cognate disciplines in South Africa. Since its inception 37 years ago, ESSA has been committed to raising awareness about HFE and its benefits in South Africa and more widely on the African continent, where the discipline is still not as widely understood or implemented. Through building strategic partnerships locally with relevant government departments and allied professions, ESSA has contributed to the development of HFE legislative tools and the provision of information and resources to support the implementation of HFE in South Africa and other industrially developing nations. Internationally, ESSA collaborated with other HFE societies and facilitated the formation of ErgoAfrica (network of African Ergonomics Societies) and the BRICSplus HFE network.

Fact sheet

  • Established: 1985
  • Approximate number of members: approximately 100 members
  • Approximate number of certified HFE professionals: 34
  • Website:
  • E-Mail :


Dr. Jessica Hutchings (President and IEA Representative)

Dr Jonathan Davy (Vice President&Treasurer)

Mrs. Sally Classen (Secretary)

Overview of ESSA activities

ESSA is one of very few IEA federated societies globally that has had its professional certification process endorsed by the IEA. This endorsement not only provides recognition of ESSA Professional Affairs Board’s (PAB) certification process at an international level, but also enables ESSA certified professionals to be recognised in other parts of the world. ESSA’s PAB manages the certification of registered ergonomics professionals in South Africa, while ensuring the professional and ethical practice of ergonomics in the country as recommended by the International Ergonomics Association. The PAB recognises four levels of professional certification: a Certified Professional Ergonomist (CPE), a CPE-in-training, a Certified Ergonomics Associate (CEA) and a CEA-in-training. The number of certified individuals currently stands at 34.

ESSA organises and facilitates a variety of activities aimed at providing educational information and networking opportunities. This includes the ESA journal, ESSA Newsletter, the bi-annual conference, seminars and webinars. Where possible, ESSA builds strategic partnerships with relevant stakeholders with the view of facilitating access to events, services and information for its members.

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.  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, below are some of the activities achieved by the society :

• 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 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.

ESSA Membership

ESSA membership is open to all practitioners, academics and students who are interested in HFE in South Africa, the African continent and beyond. Membership benefits include subscription to the ESA journal, the ESSA newsletter, preferential rates to access selected ESSA events, access to updates on local and international HFE opportunities including vacancies, requests for work from prospective clients, scholarship opportunities and much more.

Membership to the society offers the following benefits:

  • An electronic copy of the ErgonomicsSA Journal or individual articles published:
  • Bi-monthly newsletters that cover a range of topics pertinent to ergonomics and occupational health more broadly, as well as notifications of events happening both within and outside of South Africa.
  • Access to any new publications or guidance material related to ergonomics
  • Discounted rates to ESSA conferences, webinars, events and workshops
  • The opportunity to apply for professional registration with the Professional Affair Board of ESSA.

To register or find out more about the different ESSA membership packages, please visit