Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Monday, October 1, 2012

Grants up to $5,000 available for workplace ergonomic issues

MHealthy is accepting applications for its annual ergonomics grants program. University departments or units in need of financial help to purchase equipment or redesign work processes to solve ergonomic issues can receive up to $5,000 to implement solutions that make the work environment safer.


Apply for an Ergo grant.

Access online resources such as self-help tutorials and printable posters to promote healthy behaviors.

The Ergonomics Awareness Team encourages anyone who regularly experiences any of the following in the workplace to apply for a grant:

• Physical discomfort due to manually lifting, pushing, pulling or transporting equipment, objects or patients.

• Bending over, reaching up or performing awkward, repetitive motion for several hours during the workday.

• Physical stress or discomfort due to work conditions.

Kendra VanWasshenova, a pediatric physical therapist, received an ergonomic grant to help purchase a high-low mat table for her department's treatment room.

"The previous table was challenging because it was so low that our therapists had to bend over to treat our pint-sized patients," says VanWasshenova, who works with children with brain or spinal cord injuries. "We use the mat table daily for patient evaluation and treatment so back safety and maintaining a healthy posture became a real concern.

"The new mat table we purchased with the grant allows therapists, patients and families to engage in activities at a height appropriate for proper body mechanics."

Many university employees may have to use a lot of force, repeat the same motion for hours a day, or bend their bodies in awkward ways just to do their jobs, says Suzanne Bade, MHealthy Ergonomics Awareness Team chair and senior ergonomics consultant.

"Many of the risks associated with performing these tasks can be reduced or eliminated altogether just by making changes — many times small ones — to the work environment or equipment. The return is improved worker safety, satisfaction, comfort and productivity," she says.

Any regular employee can apply for an ergonomic grant. Applications will be judged based on the significance of the ergonomic issue, the feasibility of the project and the anticipated outcome.

To help as many university areas as possible and make grant dollars go farther, MHealthy encourages departments and units that receive a grant to share in the cost of the project; however, it is not mandatory to receive a grant.

Applications are accepted year-round; however, submissions are encouraged by Oct. 31. Once funds are exhausted applications will be held until the next fiscal year.