Recognize a department for reducing ergonomic risks


Nominations are being accepted for the university’s annual MHealthy Ergonomics Awards for Departments.

Any faculty or staff member can nominate a department or unit for reducing ergonomic risk factors by adding new equipment, modifying equipment or redesigning work processes.

“Through this award, the Ergonomics Awareness Team aims to recognize the great improvements that university units are making to create safer work methods, work processes and higher employee satisfaction,” says Suzanne Bade, MHealthy Ergonomics program chair and senior ergonomics consultant. 

The Ergonomics Awareness team includes representatives from MHealthy; Occupational Safety and Environmental Health in Ann Arbor; UMHHC Safety Management Services; the Department of Environmental Health and Safety in Dearborn; and Environment, Health and Safety in Flint.

“This award recognizes ergonomic improvements large and small,” Bade says. “For example, adding a ramp to a delivery truck and purchasing wheeled carts reduces the chance of strain from lifting and carrying heavy equipment. Or redesigning the layout of a storage area so that items are near elbow height instead of overhead reduces awkward postures.”

Employees are encouraged to nominate their department or unit if it has independently created a safer, healthier and more efficient work environment by reducing one or more of the following:

• Awkward postures: Repeated or prolonged reaching, twisting, bending, kneeling, squatting, or working overhead with your hands or arms.

• Forceful exertions: Heavy lifting or maintaining control of equipment or tools.

• Repetition or sustained postures: Doing the same motions over and over again or holding the body in one posture for long periods of time.

• Contact stress: Pressing the body against a hard or sharp object can result in putting too much pressure on nerves, tendons and blood vessels. For example, using your hand as a hammer can increase your risk of musculoskeletal disorders.

• Vibration: For example, operating vibrating tools such as sanders, grinders, chippers, routers, drills and saws.

• Temperature extremes: For example, the use of thick or loose-fitting gloves to keep hands warm may cause you to grip hand tools more forcefully, resulting in added stress to the wrists and hands.

To qualify, the ergonomic solution must have been implemented during 2015. Entries will be judged based on the significance of the ergonomic issue and the success of the ergonomic solution.

Nominations will be recognized at one of three award levels:

• Gold Level — Units receive a healthy celebration sponsored by MHealthy and a special plaque.

• Silver Level — Units receive a certificate of recognition.

• Bronze Level — Units receive a special letter of appreciation.

Ergo Department Award applications are accepted throughout the month of March and can be submitted online at Winners are announced in May.

Nominations also are being accepted year-round for Individual Ergo Hero Awards, which recognizes employees for independently reducing their chance of discomfort or other ergonomic risks by using recommended postures, work strategies or equipment.  It also recognizes managers, supervisors and other university leaders who support staff by applying ergonomic solutions in the workplace. New winners are recognized monthly with an Ergo Hero lapel pin and a congratulatory certificate.

For more information, visit the ergonomic website, email the Ergonomics Team at, or call 734-763-0852.


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