Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Thursday, October 1, 2009

MHealthy launches latest round of applications for ergonomics grants

Apply for an ergonomics grant.
View previous grant and award winners.
Learn about chair-adjustment techniques.

Employees in U-M Health Systems Materiel Services transport everything from people to supplies to equipment, and sometimes the items weigh more than 1,000 pounds. Now their jobs can be safer and more efficient thanks to new electric cart tuggers purchased in part through MHealthy’s Ergonomics 2008 Grants program.

The cart tugger electrically moves carts, reducing the amount of physical strain and exertion sustained while delivering supplies and equipment. Other units in the hospital, including Linen Distribution and Environmental Services, also have begun using the tuggers to improve employee safety.

The MHealthy Ergonomics Awareness team launches its fourth annual ergonomics grant program today. Departments or units in need of financial help to purchase equipment or to redesign work processes to solve ergonomic issues can receive up to $5,000 to implement solutions that make the work environment safer and more efficient.

Ergonomics is the science of fitting the workplace to the worker, often resulting in added safety, health, productivity and job satisfaction.

“For departments with limited budgets, an ergonomics grant can help make necessary improvements that create not only a safer environment for the worker but also one that is more pleasant and productive,” says Suzanne Bade, MHealthy Ergonomics Awareness program chair and senior ergonomics consultant.

Entries will be judged on the significance of the ergonomics issue, the feasibility of the project and the anticipated outcome. To help make grant dollars go further, MHealthy encourages recipients to share in the cost of the project by matching the grant amount.

New this year, grant applications will be accepted year-round with reviews occurring in November for applications received by Oct. 31. A second round of reviews will take place in March 2010 if grant funds remain.

Also new this year, MHealthy will accept applications for its Ergonomic Solutions Awards in March 2010. Awards are given to departments or units that independently implement ergonomic solutions to maintain a safe, healthy and productive work community.

“Training staff on how to properly adjust office chairs or making other no-cost or low-cost changes to someone’s work space can make a big difference,” Bade says.

In addition to grants and awards available for all university locations, the Ergonomics Awareness team offers online resources such as tutorials, contact information for ergonomic specialists and printable posters to promote healthy behaviors.