Abbi Slater (BSc, PG Dip, RKin, AE)
Ergonomist, Canada Post
As an athlete myself, I am fully aware of how an injury can have long-lasting impacts on someone’s life. I became interested in human movement, performance, and injury prevention early on; that has carried into my career first, as a Registered Kinesiologist, and then moving into Ergonomics.
My interest in injury prevention and movement even extends past humans – I have studied Canine Conditioning and Fitness to better understand how to apply injury prevention and similar principles to my own dog!
When I am not doing ergonomics at work, I can often be found applying human movement outdoors – snowboarding, hiking with my dog, cycling, or motorcycle touring to other parts of our beautiful country.
1. How long have you been an ACE member?
I joined ACE shortly after graduating, so I have been a member now for over 12 years.
2. How did you first become interested in ergonomics?
I completed my BSc in Human Kinetics at the University of Ottawa first. I worked as a kinesiologist in a variety of roles, before deciding that I wanted to do something more specialized. I had learned that Ergonomics would be a good progression from kinesiology, as I was passionate about injury prevention and human movement. I began working as an Ergonomics Consultant first, and then joined Canada Post as the Ergonomist on the National Health & Safety team. I’ve been there now for over 5 years working on injury prevention through Ergonomics in Design.
3. What didn’t you learn in school that you wish you had?
Based on the type of ergonomics I am doing now, I would have loved to learn more about Lean Ergonomics and how you can use Lean Six Sigma to benefit ergonomics. For example, finding ways to reduce unnecessary waste, through reducing wasted motion to improve an ergonomics process while simultaneously improving efficiency.
4. What is your favourite aspect of being an ergonomist? / What is your favourite aspect of being involved in ergonomics?
It is incredibly rewarding to see when that light just clicks with someone else who is not an ergonomist; when you are able to observe someone else prioritize ergonomics and implement something into a design based on principles you have recommended, it is so satisfying.
5. What do you see as the biggest opportunity for ergonomists in the future?
I think the 4th Industrial Revolution is going to create opportunities for ergonomists in many types of industries. More automation, semi-automation, robotics, and cobots in the workplace, will open a lot of doors for us to get in and influence how this equipment will interact with people.
6. What advice would you give to a student or young professional starting out in ergonomics?
Have patience. Even throughout my career so far over the last 14-15 years, I have seen changes take place and improvements that were not there when I began my career in ergonomics. When you first leave school, you have this vision that you will have a huge impact right off the bat and sometimes it takes time to implement a measurable change. Sticking to your path, keeping your head up, and pushing the industry forward will pay off in the long run. Also, get experience where and when you can. Every little bit counts and having a variety of experiences in ergonomics only builds your knowledge base and ability to problem solve going forward.
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