Grant-Funded Ergonomics and Biosafety Training Available to Michigan Businesses

man working in a manufacturing facility

The information shared in this article was provided the University of Michigan Center for Ergonomics and Center for Occupational Health and Safety Engineering 

Q: No matter the industry, location, or size of the organization, what is one thing all employees want their organization to invest in?

A: Workplace health and safety.

Employees want to know their employers are investing in the technology, equipment, and furniture necessary to foster a healthy and safe work environment. The University of Michigan Center for Ergonomics is helping employers navigate the complexities of workplace ergonomics and biosafety by offering grant-funded ergonomic job analysis and training.

What is workplace ergonomics and why is it important? 

Occupational ergonomics is the use of scientific knowledge and workplace human-centered design principles to minimize the risk of employees developing soft tissue disorders and improve quality, efficiency, and safety.

“Ergonomics is often described as ‘fitting the job to the person,’” explained Sheryl Ulin, research program officer for the Center for Ergonomics at the University of Michigan, “Both physical and cognitive aspects of work are considered.”

Ergonomic injuries occur when the body uses muscles, tendons, and ligaments to perform tasks that over time can create pain and cause injury. The primary causes of ergonomic injuries are overexertion and repetitive motions.

Work-related musculoskeletal disorders account for 33% of employee-reported injuries and illnesses each year and are one of the leading causes of lost and restricted time, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 2018, retail trade, manufacturing, healthcare, and social assistance industries accounted for 50% of all musculoskeletal cases in the private sector.

The good news is employers can work to minimize work-related musculoskeletal disorders by participating in trainings that promote ergonomic design criteria.

How do ergonomics and workplace safety impact talent attraction and retention? 

Workplace safety and ergonomics programs benefit both employees and employers by optimizing the production of quality products and services through jobs that have been designed to match employee capabilities.

“This helps to develop a work environment in which all employees are valued and employee commitment to the company is strengthened,” said Ulin. “This workplace culture helps companies attract and retain a talented workforce.”

Employees want to work in an environment where their health, safety, and well-being are prioritized. Employers who do not invest in workplace health and safety are likely to see higher turnover rates and struggle with recruiting talented candidates.

What can employers do?

The University of Michigan Center for Ergonomics offers training and services to small and medium sized businesses through MIOSHA CET grant funding from the State of Michigan. The program includes:

    • Video documentation of two to three jobs performed in your workplace to aid in an ergonomic assessment.
    • A written job analysis report for the jobs that were filmed.
    • An introductory ergonomics seminar for 25 or more staff.

During the seminar, introductory ergonomics information is provided and the group reviews videos of selected jobs performed in their facility. Seminar attendees identify risk factors for musculoskeletal disorders within those jobs and discuss workplace interventions to reduce or eliminate the identified risk factors. Workplace risk factors that are assessed include:

    • Repeated and sustained exertions
    • Forceful exertions
    • Posture stress
    • Localized contact / mechanical stress
    • Vibration
    • Cold temperatures

Available training programs through The University of Michigan Center for Ergonomics

 1. Ergonomics seminar for small and medium sized Michigan businesses

    • Available to small and medium sized businesses.
    • The seminar is 2.5 hours and will be customized to respond to each company’s specific needs.
    • Interested businesses are encouraged to visit here for more details.

2. Ergonomics course for all businesses

    • In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the course has shifted to a series of virtual, pre-recorded presentations. Course registrants have the flexibility to watch lectures at their convenience.
    • Discussion sessions will be conducted so registrants can ask questions and participate in facilitated conversations focusing on ergonomic job analysis case studies.
    • Interested businesses are encouraged to visit here for more details.

3. Biosafety training for all businesses

    • This training focuses on educating employers on biosafety, infectious diseases, and bloodborne pathogens to improve workplace health and safety.
    • Registration is open to businesses of all sizes. The training program is provided at no cost to participating organizations.
    • This training is completely virtual.
    • Curriculum and content will be customized to address the company’s needs.
    • Interested businesses are encouraged to visit here for more details.

By investing in training, technology, and equipment necessary to foster a safe work environment, employers can minimize work-related musculoskeletal disorders among their workforce.