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March 2017 Field Trip Pt. 1 - University of Michigan Research Symposium

Mar 20, 2017, 09:42 AM by User Not Found
Part 1 of the March 2017 interdisciplinary ERC field trip to Michigan.

On March 16-18, 2017, ERC students, faculty, and staff visited Ann Arbor, Michigan for the University of Michigan School of Public Health Research Symposium. The groups met with University of Illinois at Chicago and University of Michigan ERC students and faculty to network and share their current research pursuits. 

Thank you to the University of Michigan ERC for hosting our Cincinnati group and for planning a great opportunity to network between the Michigan, Cincinnati, and Illinois ERCs. We look forward to further collaboration in the near future.


UC group at the symposium


Cincinnati, Michigan, and Illinois ERC faculty

Conference Session 1: Underserved Workers

Authors: Bingbing Wu & Jennie Cox 

The first session of the Michigan ERC Symposium focused on underserved workers. Drs. Lisa Brosseau and Joseph Zanoni discussed the demographics and workplace health and safety needs of underserved workers. They further discussed partnering with unions, worker centers, and community-based organizations to empower vulnerable workers in their jobs. A current outreach project aims to improve health and safety for low wage, Latino, immigrant construction workers. This program provides paid health and safety training to an underserved working population, who otherwise would have little to no workplace safety training. The ultimate goal of the training sessions are to reduce injuries among this population of workers. The goal is being accomplished by having everyone serve as a teacher and everyone as a learner, understanding social conditions of the workers, finding the right organizations to partner with, and building leadership skills within the organization. 


Dr. Zanoni presentation

Dr. Marie-Anne Rosemberg from the University of Michigan’s School of Nursing focused on hotel housekeepers and hotel laundry workers, which are mostly low wage and non-U.S. born workers. Low wage workers in general are over-represented by immigrants, Black Americans and low income families who are often exposed to physical, chemical, biological, and psychological hazards. Dr. Rosemberg’s research uses a socio-ecological framework to address stressors outside the work and exposures at work to characterize the risks of those workers. Further, she will use a total worker health agenda consisting of research, practice and translation. This research is still in progress. 


Dr. Rosemberg presentation

During this session, we learned that a third of U.S. workers are low wage and have a higher rate of work-related injuries and illnesses. This working population needs more research and prevention attention as well as different and multiple outreach efforts, due to their financial stress and language barriers that make it harder to reach them for training.

Conference Session 2: Global Occupational Health

Authors: Matthew K. Owen and Samuel Miller

The Global Occupational Health session demonstrated the dire need for ERCs’ continued work toward ensuring a safe and profitable work environment in all parts of the world. Dr. Rick Neitzel’s research covered the occupational health impacts of electronic waste recycling in low and middle-income countries, specifically Ghana and Thailand. The talk educated the audience about how electronic waste cannot be shipped across international boundaries (except for the U.S. and North Korea who have not signed that treaty). As a result, much electronic recycling occurs in the country of origin. People burn wires to remove the copper, get together in groups to dismantle equipment, and dispose of the rest in giant piles. He discussed how noise exposure and stress during dismantling were strong predictors of injury, emphasizing that we need to work to develop new techniques that reduce the hazards without taking away this economic opportunity.


Dr. Neitzel presentation

Dr. Albert Tien discussed the UN Global Compact and occupational health investments of international countries. There were goals but they haven’t been achieved yet. According to him, media scrutiny is a good way of keeping these corporations in check. He also mentioned how corporations work in areas with little to no regulations. Moreover, a company may have safety standards but contract out to companies who don’t care or aren’t big enough to have the resources needed. 


Dr. Tien presentation

Dr. Andrew Maier spoke about international chemical risks and the value of advanced training for the implementation of safety policies. There is a lot of information available, but the distribution of this information to developing countries is very poor, in part due to the lack of a universal database for all resources. India has only 1 industrial hygienist per 2,000 factories, as an example. The challenge is to convince people to embrace and use this information. Training needs to be expanded by working with universities outside of developed nations, and make networking much easier. Certificates also need to be emphasized and advertised.  


Dr. Maier presentation 

Overall, this trip was a valuable experience that provided a great opportunity to learn. We were able to speak with a variety of experts while also interchanging ideas and sharing our research with peers from multiple universities and programs.

Keynote Address

Authors: Ali Aljaroudi & Georganne Kincer

The Keynote speaker was Dr. Robert Radwin from The University of Wisconson-Madison, specializing in Industrial and Systems Engineering. During the keynote presentation, Dr. Radwin explained how the 1980s were a very exciting period for ergonomics research in motion analysis using old techniques such as the video home system, traditional cameras, and basic ergonomics assessment sheets. By using computer vision in motion analysis techniques, a frame-by-frame video analysis method was developed as a measurement of the repetitive motion such as the hand activity level. Other techniques are posture analysis methods using instruments established in 2000s such as computer vision software and computer algorithm applications. 


Dr. Radwin keynote presentation

There is an urge to use the computer vision for ergonomics. The rationale for this is the computer vision technique is more reliable with better accuracy and repeatability than observation. Also, observation is not well-suited for temporal quantities such as duration and frequency, or long-term viewing. The computer vision does not interfere with work (no sensors or instruments). It also takes less time and has potential for real-time direct reading exposure assessment. Examples of modern computer vision techniques are motion capture simulation in ergonomics and 3D marker-less motion capture. However, the computer vision techniques are facing workplace challenges which include: the complexity of work environment (poor illumination, obstacles, and obstructions), multiple cameras are difficult to locate, poor vantage points, and fitting constraining a priori linkage joining models.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison objective is to develop an exposure meter for repetitive motion with a reliable approach: a relax need for high precision, emphasize temporal patterns without a need for a priori model, using 2D signal camera, and adopt a semi-automatic approach. A cross correlation template matching and sequential Bayesian estimation marker-less tracking algorithm were used to reach that objective. Robust 2D marker-less tracking and machine learning algorithm were invented. These advance computer vision techniques were used to translating NIOSH Upper limb musculoskeletal disorder consortium epidemiological data into a computer vision instrument, ACGIH TLV for hand activity level and manual lifting, and NIOSH lifting equation.

Poster Sessions

Author: Cynthia Betcher

The posters at the University of Michigan Center for Occupational Health and Safety Engineering (COHSE) Research Symposium represented a wide variety of occupational safety and health topics.


Poster session

The two poster sessions included seven University of Cincinnati presentations by: 

  • Michael Benjamin, Department of Environmental Health: Real-time monitoring of cleaning product irritants in a simulated home health care environment
  • Jennie Cox, Department of Environmental Health: Comparison of four settled dust collection methods for use in indoor fungal contamination assessments
  • Evan Frank, Department of Environmental Health: Establishing airborne concentration limits for active pharmaceutical ingredients in home health care workplaces
  • Georganne Kincer, College of Nursing: Use of physiological markers to evaluate firefighters’ reactions when exposed to stressors
  • Samuel Miller, Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering: Enhanced capture of magnetic microbeads in a microfluidic device for water treatment and analysis
  • Matthew K. Owen, College of Engineering and Applied Sciences-Mechanical Engineering: The effect of dry substrate wettability on droplet splash
  • Bingbing Wu, Department of Environmental Health: Development and evaluation of a novel real-time respirator seal integrity monitor for controlling inhalation exposure of firefighters 


Jennie Cox Poster


Matthew Owen Poster

Each of the students enthusiastically described his or her research in a clear, concise, and professional manner, as poster session attendees viewed the posters and asked questions.

Research topics from other universities, such as University of Michigan, the University of Illinois at Chicago, Eastern Michigan University, Oakland University, and Purdue University, included an injury analysis of Chicago transit workers, a feasibility study for intensive upper limb work, utilizing smart devices to measure intermittent noise exposure in the workplace, distracted driving and traffic safety, and occupational inhalation exposures in nail salons. The posters reflected creativity and innovation in multidisciplinary research, which seeks to improve workplace health and safety.

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