The Bay Area Ergonomics Roundtable holds the distinction of being the oldest such Roundtable in the US. It was started in 1987 by 2 pioneers in their field; Dr. David Rempel (UCSF) and Ed Grossmith (site ergonomist at IBM).
The purpose of the first meeting was to share IBM’s proactive ergonomics program and demonstrate to Dr. Rempel the practical engineering upgrades already implemented in computer disk manufacturing operations.
A second meeting was held during which Dr. Rempel presented findings from his recent Project Sensor study on carpal tunnel syndrome. This meeting was attended by representatives from IBM’s ergonomics, medical, safety, and industrial hygiene staff. Also in attendance were Laurie Fraser from the Department of Health and a visiting Canadian ergonomist. Two meetings in- and already BAER had become International!
The 1990's saw the membership increase in BAER as the monthly meetings began to be hosted by prominent businesses within the Bay Area. Intel Corporation, Applied Materials, Lockheed Martin and Apple Computers being just a few. These meetings were a true Roundtable as members would bring in an ergonomics problem, solution, case study or a new product to be reviewed, discussed, worked through and managed from a collective group effort.
The early 2000's saw the designation of BAER being applied to the Roundtable and the logo originated. Because the membership had grown so much, the Roundtable was able to create focused committees; Steering, Membership, Pubic Relations and Products. Now each meeting had a more formal presentation, followed by discussions and then product presentations (some by ergonomists, and many by vendors at this time).
A BAER Speakers Bureau and an Expert Source List were established, and under Sally Longyear, a comprehensive list of data input devices and their applications was created.
The 2010's saw the membership increase again and the focus become sharper as now we had KEEP (Kids Ergonomics Education Program) and CORE (Concerns of Real Employees) groups working together and the Steering Committee in 2010 put together a 6-module package on "How to Design and Implement a Proactive Office Ergonomics Program in a Medium to Large Size Organization".
And, the CORE focus group broke new ground by investigating stressors employees brought to the workplace that had "deleterious effect upon their health, wellbeing and productivity".
In the last 10 years, BAER has continued to grow, and now many of our members are on-line as well as continuing to meet in person. Emails are put out almost weekly from members asking questions about a particular employee set-up, product need, or case study. Within hours (and in some cases, minutes!) there are discussions, open sharing of "this is how we did it" and ultimately, answers, to our most pressing ergo questions.
The group is rich and varied in the experiences and diversity of our workplaces, locations and in the members themselves.
As of 2021, BAER will be celebrating 33 years of shared ergonomic expertise in the Bay Area.