Winning departments announced for 2016 Ergonomics Awards


More than a dozen university areas were recognized with MHealthy Ergonomics Awards for implementing ergonomic solutions in their workplace.

Winning areas have decreased risk factors and reduced or prevented employee discomfort by adding or modifying equipment and redesigning work processes.

“Congratulations to this year’s winning areas for being champions in creating safer work environments and helping to raise awareness around the importance of ergonomic risk reduction and improving employee comfort,” says Sarah Cooney, the ergonomics program coordinator at Occupational Safety and Environmental Health.

“This year’s recipients exhibited creative solutions which were customized and fabricated in house to best address their unique ergonomic challenges.”

Three areas were recognized as Gold Level winners:

• Information and Technology Services Tech Depot designed and constructed mobile carts to transport heavy equipment.

“Throughout their day, our technicians repeatedly move heavy equipment from carts to racks, then back to the carts, which creates opportunity for injury,” says Mark Pugh, operations supervisor for ITS-Tech Depot. “Our unit purchased security carts with movable racks that help to minimize the need to lift and lower heavy equipment. It really makes pickup and delivery of dispositioned hardware easier, saves time and creates a positive, safer work environment.”

• Plant Hospital Maintenance Plumbing Shop designed and constructed a custom cart for transporting pipes in elevators.

“Before creating the modified cart, we had to carry heavy pipe by hand and load and unload it on to flat carts,” says Phillip Duncan, a steamfitter in Plant Hospital Maintenance’s Plumbing Shop. “The new cart moves pipe onto elevators and through buildings, which lessens the physical labor and reduces the amount of heavy lifting involved in transporting these materials.” 

• U-M Health System MedSport designed and constructed an auto-spinner for wrapping bandages.

“Prior to the improvement, our staff were experiencing pain, strain and fatigue in their hands, wrists, arms, shoulders and backs from the repetitive motion and uncomfortable postures required during a bandage wrapping session,” says Darlene Yao, a rehabilitation technician for UMHS MedSport Domino’s Farms. “Our team designed and fabricated an automated wrapping device that has essentially eliminated staff discomfort and is five time faster.”

All entries were reviewed by the Ergonomics Awareness team, which includes representatives from MHealthy, Occupational Safety and Environmental Health in Ann Arbor, UMHS Safety Management Services, the Department of Environmental Health and Safety in Dearborn, and Environment, Health and Safety in Flint.

“This year’s recipients demonstrate that making ergonomic improvements, whether large or small, can lead to safer work processes and higher employee satisfaction,” says Amie Rush, senior ergonomist for UMHS Safety Management Services.

Winners were recognized at one of three award levels and were based on the significance of the ergonomic issue and the success of the ergonomic solution.

Gold level winners received a healthy celebration sponsored by MHealthy and a special plaque, silver level winners are recognized with a certificate of recognition, and bronze level winners received a letter of commendation.

Nominations for department-level Ergonomics Awards are accepted each spring.

Nominations for the Individual Ergo Hero Award are accepted year-round and recognize faculty and staff, including supervisors and managers, who are independently reducing ergonomic risks by using recommended postures, work strategies or equipment. Recipients are recognized with an Ergo Hero lapel pin and a congratulatory certificate.


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