The Ergonomics Society of South Africa

The Ergonomics Society of South Africa (ESSA) is a federated member of the International Ergonomics Association (IEA). As a society, ESSA, aims to promote an awareness of ergonomics in South Africa and both the health and safety and productivity benefits that can be derived from the implementation of sound ergonomics principles.


What is Ergonomics?

Ergonomics is the science of work.  Derived from the Greek words ergon (work) and nomos (laws).

The official International Ergonomics Association (IEA) definition of ergonomics is as follows: "Ergonomics is the scientific discipline concerned with the understanding of interactions among humans and other elements of a system, and the profession that applies theory, principles, data and methods to design in order to optimize human well-being and overall system performance.

Ergonomists contribute to the design and evaluation of tasks, jobs, products, environments and systems in order to make them compatible with the needs, abilities and limitations of people".  Taken from

Ergonomics has a number of domains of specialisation.  These include the following broad areas:   physical, cognitive and organisational ergonomics.  Practicing Ergonomists are likely to come from a number of diverse areas, but all will be concerned with the assessment of people in their working environments.  Ergonomics in Industrially Developing Countries (IDCs) is a major focus for ESSA as we work at growing the discipline in Africa. 


What is the role of ESSA?

The role of the ergonomics society of South Africa can be sub-divided into four core areas which are outlined below:


It is the responsibility of ESSA and its Professional Affairs Board (PAB) to facilitate the certification of ergonomics in South Africa. ESSA is a federated society of the International Ergonomics Association (IEA) who provides criteria for the certification of ergonomists at an appropriate level of both education and experience. Certification and the processes to follow have been updated on our website. Please refer to the Certification page.

Awareness and Understanding:

Since ergonomics globally, and particularly in South Africa, is a relatively new profession, there is both a lack of understanding of and awareness of ergonomics within the South African framework. As the bastions of Ergonomics in South Africa it is the role of ESSA to promote not only an understanding of ergonomics but also to promote an awareness of the discipline and the benefits that can be derived from the successful implementation of ergonomics principles in the workplace.

Provide resources:

ESSA should serve as a resource point for all of its members and those interested in ergonomics. There should be a large array of resources available that are up to date and provide members with information on pertinent ergonomics issues. These resources should include:

  • Examples of good practice as evident in South African industries
  • Ergonomics guidelines for specific industries (e.g. office ergonomics guidelines, construction industry, etc)

These guidelines should be developed with the assistance of relevant stakeholders in the various industries.

Strategic partnerships:

Due to the multi-factorial nature of ergonomics it is imperative for ESSA to develop strategic partnerships with other organizations involved in the workplace.

23 January 2018

Happy reading our December 2017 newsletter

13 January 2020
On Friday, the 6 December 2019 the Ergonomics Regulations were promulgated and published in the Government Gazette. Accompanying the Regulations are explanatory guidance notes, which elaborate on the Regulations. The Department of Employment and Labour will host road
ESSA Fatigue Management Workshop
30 May 2018
THE ERGONOMICS SOCIETY OFSOUTH AFRICA SPECIAL INTEREST GROUP: Fatigue Management Workshop Date: 11 July 2018 08:00 – 15:00 Venue: Wits Univeristy, Johannesburg: Senate Room -  Solomon Mahlangu House 2nd Floor Proposed Program Registration close: 4 July 2018 Registration Queries:
At what temperature by law in south Africa, should an employee be paid an cold room allowance and is there a prescribed percentage?
Hi Melany, Thanks for your question. In terms of temperature please refer to the Environmental Regulations in the Occupational and Health and Safety Act.However in terms of a cold room allowance we are not sure on this, but perhaps a Labour Broker may be able to assist you. Thanks Jessica