Dr. Mitja Trkov and Fall-Prevention Awareness 2018 Events

On September 14th and 20th, Dr. Mitja Trkov attended the Salt Lake County Aging and Adult Services Fall-Prevention Awareness events which were open to the general public.  Dr. Trkov shared fall-prevention tips and discussed Ergonomics & Safety Program research.  He was accompanied by Prof. Andrew Merryweather on the 14th and by Prof. Ken d’Entremont on the 20th.

Attendees were able to learn of simple ergonomic principles to help prevent the slip, trip, and fall of the aging population.  In addition, many of those attending were able to see dynamic pressure maps of their own feet in real-time using the E&S Program’s instrumented insoles as shown in the photograph below (September 20, 2018).

Dr. Mitja Trkov explains the foot-pressure map of instrumented shoe insoles to an attendee at the Salt Lake County Fall-Prevention Awareness Event (September 20, 2018).

Mortensen and Trkov shine at IEA 2018

Jon Mortensen and Mitja Trkov presented their work at the 20th Congress of the International Ergonomics Association in Florence, Italy. Jon presented a new modeling approach to evaluate falls using OpenSim, and Dr. Trkov presented work related to the Lifting Coach.

Bagnara S, Tartaglia R, Albolino S, Alexander T, Fujita Y, editors. Proceedings of the 20th Congress of the International Ergonomics Association (IEA 2018): Volume II: Safety and Health, Slips, Trips and Falls. Springer; 2018 Aug 4.

Bagnara S, Tartaglia R, Albolino S, Alexander T, Fujita Y, editors. Proceedings of the 20th Congress of the International Ergonomics Association (IEA 2018): Volume VI: Transport Ergonomics and Human Factors (TEHF), Aerospace Human Factors and Ergonomics. Springer; 2018 Aug 4.

Merryweather and Colleagues Receive Award at IEA 2018 in Florence, Italy

Dr. Merryweather and his colleagues were awarded the Liberty Mutual Medal for 2017 at the 20th Congress of the International Ergonomics Association in Florence, Italy. The team was recognized last year for their contributions to the field of workplace safety and ergonomics. Dr. Stephen Boa (First Author) presented work on behalf of the research team.

Stephen S. Bao, Jay M. Kapellusch, Andrew S. Merryweather, Matthew S. Thiese, Arun Garg, Kurt T. Hegmann & Barbara A. Silverstein (2016) Relationships between job organisational factors, biomechanical and psychosocial exposures, Ergonomics, 59:2, 179-194, DOI: 10.1080/00140139.2015.1065347

The relationships between work organisational, biomechanical and psychosocial factors were studied using cross-sectional data from a pooled dataset of 1834 participants. The work organisational factors included: job rotation, overtime work, having second jobs and work pace. Task and job level biomechanical variables were obtained through sub-task data collected in the field or analysed in the laboratory. Psychosocial variables were collected based on responses to 10 questions. The results showed that job rotations had significant effects on all biomechanical and most psychosocial measures. Those with job rotations generally had higher job biomechanical stressors, and lower job satisfaction. Overtime work was associated with higher job biomechanical stressors, and possibly self-reported physical exhaustion. Those having second jobs reported getting along with co-workers well. Work pace had significant influences on all biomechanical stressors, but its impact on job biomechanical stressors and psychosocial effects are complicated.

Practitioner Summary: The findings are based on a large number of subjects collected by three research teams in diverse US workplaces. Job rotation practices used in many workplaces may not be effective in reducing job biomechanical stressors for work-related musculoskeletal disorders. Overtime work is also associated with higher biomechanical stressors.

E&S Program Paper Accepted for IROS 2018 (International Conference on Intelligent Robots, Madrid, ES)

A paper, from the Ergonomics & Safety Program, has been accepted for the 2018 International Conference on Intelligent Robots (IROS 2018) entitled Dynamics Model Learning and Manipulation Planning for Objects in Hospitals Using a Patient Assistant Mobile (PAM) Robot, by Roya Sabbagh Novin, Amir Yazdani, Tucker Hermans, and Andrew Merryweather.  This conference will be held in Madrid, Spain on October 1-5, 2018.


One of the most concerning and high-cost problems in hospitals is patients falls. We address this problem by introducing PAM, a patient assistant mobile robot that delivers a mobility aid and helps with fall prevention. Common objects found in indoor environments such as hospitals include objects with legs (i.e. walkers, tables, chairs, equipment stands). For a mobile robot operating in such environments, safely maneuvering these objects without collision is essential. Since providing the robot with dynamic models of all possible legged objects that may exist in such environments is not feasible, learning models that can be used in manipulation planning that estimate an object’s dynamics is useful. We describe a probabilistic method for this by fitting pre-categorized object models learned from minimal force and motion interactions with an object. The multiple options for grasping legs requires a control system comprised by a hybrid of discrete grasping legs and continuous applied forces. To do this, a model of a simple one-wheel point-mass is used. A hybrid MPC-based manipulation planning algorithm was developed to compensate for modeling errors. While the proposed algorithm is developed for a wider range of legged objects, we will focus on the case of a 2-wheel walker in this paper. Simulation and experimental tests show that the obtained dynamic model is sufficiently accurate for safe and collision-free manipulation. When combined with the proposed manipulation planning algorithm, the robot can successfully move the object to a desired position.

Roya Sabbagh Novin & Amir Yazdani: Recipients of 2018 ASSP Foundation Scholarships


Ms. Roya Sabbagh Novin and Mr. Amir Yazdani, two doctoral students in the Ergonomics & Safety Program, have been awarded 2018 ASSP Foundation Scholarship, Utah Chapter.

Since 1990, the ASSP Foundation has awarded more than $3 million in scholarships and professional education grants to students beginning their studies in occupational safety and professionals seeking to continue their education. ASSP offers nearly 150 awards each year ranging from $500 to $15,000 each. More than 1,300 safety students and professionals have advanced their careers, thanks to the generosity of the safety community and ASSP.