In recognition of October as National Ergonomics Month, the university has kicked off its 2016 Ergonomics Grant Program.
University departments and units are encouraged to apply by Oct. 31 to receive up to $5,000 in grant funds to purchase equipment or redesign work processes to solve ergonomic issues.
The program is managed by the MHealthy Ergonomics Awareness team, which includes representatives from MHealthy, Occupational Safety and Environmental Health in Ann Arbor, U-M Hospitals and Health Centers Safety Management Services, the Department of Environmental Health and Safety at UM-Dearborn, and Environment, Health and Safety at UM-Flint.
Regular employees can apply and are encouraged to submit an application if work group colleagues regularly:
• Experience physical discomfort due to manually lifting, pushing, pulling, or transporting equipment, objects or patients.
• Bend over, reach up or perform awkward, repetitive motion for several hours during the work day.
• Experience physical stress or discomfort due to work equipment.
“Many of the risks associated with performing these routine, sometimes repetitive, tasks can be reduced by making ergonomic improvements to work equipment or the environment,” says Tom Perez, director for EHS at UM-Dearborn.
“For example, we’ve received funding to purchase lightweight, stackable chairs for our art gallery events that reduce back and shoulder pain during set-ups, and art carts for moving artwork to reduce staff exertion of pushing old, heavy utility carts that were not designed for transporting such items.”
More examples of past projects are available on the MHealthy website.
Applications will be reviewed by the Ergonomics Awareness team and awarded based on the significance of the ergonomic issue, the feasibility of the project, and the anticipated outcome. Potential applicants are encouraged to visit the website for more information on what projects will, and will not, be considered for funding.
To make grant dollars go farther and support more university areas, departments and units that receive a grant are encouraged to share in the cost of the project.
“Many departments have identified ergonomic concerns at their worksite but simply lack the funds to implement solutions,” says Suzanne Bade, MHealthy Ergonomics Awareness Team chair and senior ergonomics consultant. “Our grant program is a great way to share in the cost so that worker safety, job satisfaction, comfort, and productivity can be improved sooner rather than later.”
Grant applications are encouraged by Oct. 31 although submissions are accepted year-round.
The Ergonomics Awareness Team also continues to accept year-round nominations for its Ergonomic Hero Awards.
These awards recognize departments and individuals that have independently implemented ergonomic solutions in the workplace. Nominating coworkers, supervisors, managers and departments is encouraged.