Case study

Helping Alawi push for healthy cultural change

Alawi Almajid is aiming to implement, educate and improve the health and safety culture across Saudi Arabia. To do this, he is studying our online Ergonomics MSc to expand his knowledge and help with his aspirations for the future.

Introducing a new discipline

Ergonomics is not a well-known practice in Saudi Arabia, though it is widely known in the UK, across Europe and the US. Alawi, who is from Qatif in the Eastern Province of the country, knew introducing a new discipline was a big task.

He says: “I aspire to become one of the very first in Saudi Arabia to embed ergonomics and human factors into, not only our regulations and standards, but into our everyday lives. I want my name to become synonymous to ergonomics and human factors in my country.”

For Alawi to introduce this new discipline, he believes that being professionally recognised is essential and his Ergonomics MSc is a vital first step on his route to chartership. He says: “By having the accreditation, it shows that you have worked hard to gain this professional status. In turn, it builds trust and ensures that your audience are confident in what you say.”

Alawi works as a senior health and safety adviser in the oil and gas industry. It is an industry which is known for its poor safety culture. He says: “I enjoy working there as I like to challenge myself to implement and educate people to drive the safety culture forwards. The oil and gas industry are ever evolving with new equipment, guidelines and procedures all the time. It’s a great place to be from an ergonomist’s perspective.”

A change of direction

Alawi was studying mechanical engineering in Australia but, as he explains: “I soon realised that it wasn’t for me. I wanted to move into something that I’d enjoy doing for the rest of my life, that made me feel eager to get to work in the morning, and that was occupational hygiene.”

But he is the first to admit his first encounter with ergonomics was “quite bad”. He says: “During the first trimester with another educational institute, I cried as the course wasn’t what I thought it was going to be. I remember speaking to my wife and saying that it was far beyond my abilities, but she reminded me that this is how everyone feels the first time they study something new and, once you start learning, it becomes easier.”

His wife was right. Alawi says: “After two or three months, I fell in love with the discipline and decided to specialise in it. I love that ergonomics combines so many disciplines together: anatomy, physics and psychology just to name a few.

“I am now doing my Ergonomics MSc with the University of Derby Online Learning and my aim is to specialise in ergonomics in design. This would allow me to further achieve my goals of designing a better workplace for the workforce.”

Shaping the future of ergonomics

Alawi believes that, when you work for a firm that has a good health and safety culture, it positively impacts your way of life. He says: “We often say in Saudi that, if you see people in their 30s and 40s wearing seatbelts, they must be employed by one of the few organisations with a strong safety culture.

“A lot of organisations write the policy on paper but it isn’t applied on a day-to-day basis. For me working in the health and safety field of ergonomics is a way to change workplace culture and encourage more organisations to become more committed to their employees.”

Alawi is already taking steps towards delivering what he knows about ergonomics to Saudi by translating research from English to Arabic, to help spread the message and educate the people.

He was invited to present at the annual health and safety forum in Saudi last year. He says: “I had the privilege of presenting to around 1,270 attendees, which included engineers and new graduates seeking careers in the health-and-safety field. I could see the impact from my presentation as people approached me to ask about ergonomics.

“They asked questions such as how to implement it into their organisations and how to start learning about it and thanks to my knowledge gained from my course, I was able to help.”

In terms of next steps for Alawi, he would love to work alongside the government to see ergonomics implemented across the kingdom.

Online student Alawi Almajid sat studying at his home
Online Ergonomics MSc student Alawi Almajid

An ‘amazing’ course

Alawi says: “I have found the masters course amazing. I have learned so many things and the interaction between students and tutors is very helpful. They not only help with the course but they are there to offer advice on anything career and health and safety related.

“I like the fact that I have the chance to ‘virtually’ get to know my amazing tutor, Dr Melinda Lyons, who has been helping and supporting me with my goals. Her words of encouragement have made me really think about what I want to achieve in the future and to be endorsed and recognised by someone who is at a chartered level motivates me to achieve and do more.

“I decided to study online with Derby because of the virtual learning environment. It was something different to what other universities offered. I can join an online seminar from anywhere in the world and we have an ergonomics forum space where we can collaborate and chat with tutors and students, which really helps me to rethink my practices and learn from others.”

Goals for the future

Looking to the future Alawi says: “One of my goals, which will hopefully be achieved this year, is to achieve a professional certification in Ergonomics. Once I complete my MSc, I plan on doing a PhD in Ergonomics and gaining a chartership status from the UK. I’m also looking to create an invention to aid the world of economics by collaborating with professionals in the UK.”

A diagram of the human body

Our online Ergonomics course

Our online Ergonomics course is accredited by the Chartered Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors. It meets their high standards and gives you the opportunity to gain graduate membership.

Find out more about our online Ergonomics courseFind out more about our online Ergonomics course