NORA 2019

The University of Utah’s Rocky Mountain Center for Occupational and Environmental Health (RMCOEH) and Department of Mechanical Engineering will be holding the 17th Annual Regional National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) Young/New Investigators Symposium.  

The goal of this conference is to assemble interested students (undergraduate and graduate) and young/new investigators from the region, as well as other interested parties, in a forum where NORA-related research can be presented and discussed in a non-threatening atmosphere. It is expected that, for many of the students who choose to present, it will be the first formal presentation of their research.

The NORA 2019 Conference will be held at the Officer’s Club 150 Fort Douglas Blvd, Salt Lake City, UT 84113 on April 18th & 19th.  Please visit the NORA 2019 website for the latest information.

There will be two special presentations this year at NORA.  The Opening Keynote Speaker is Sarah A. Felknor, DrPH.  Her talk is entitled Expanded Focus for Occupational Safety and Health and will start at 8:30 AM on April 18th.

Image result for sarah felknor cdc

Dr. Felknor

At 8:30 AM on April 19th, the Dr. Paul S. Richards Endowed Distinguished Visiting Lectureship in Occupational Medicine will present Donald C. Sinclair, II, J.D., who will speak on The Role of the Epidemiological and Exposure Sciences in the Resolution of Medicolegal Disputes.

Mr. Sinclair, Esq.

The Richards Lecture is FREE and open to the public, however, registration is required. To register for this lecture ONLY, register for attendance with the “Richards Lecture Only” option at the NORA 2019 website.

Moriah Henning at Research on Capitol Hill

Undergraduate researcher Moriah Henning was selected to present her work at the 19th Annual Research on Capitol Hill event on March 5th 2019. Moriah completed two semesters of research under Dr. Andrew Merryweather on characterizing the open-source, 3D-printed, InMoov robotic hand as part of the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP). She analyzed the hand’s limitations and abilities through computer and physical testing to better understand improvements that could be made to the design.

U student researchers head to Capitol Hill

TetraSki on NBC’s Today Show

The NBC News journalist Harry Smith traveled to Utah to film the TetraSki and tell the story of its development by the Tetradapt Team at the University of Utah.  His story aired Saturday on the TODAY SHOW on NBC television!

This story features Derek Sundquist, an inspiring athlete who endured a spinal cord injury several years ago, and who is now again skiing independently again thanks to the TetraSki.

Watch the Video.

The TetraSki was shown in an Ergonomics & Safety Program post on January 4, 2019 regarding Rehabilitation and Enabling Technology.

Moriah Henning at the Utah Conference for Undergraduate Research

Moriah Henning, a senior in Mechanical Engineering, presented a poster at the Utah Conference for Undergraduate Research (UCUR) at Weber State on Friday, February 22nd. The conference is modeled after the National Conference for Undergraduate Research and invites undergraduates from all disciplines to apply. It provides a great opportunity for undergraduates to share their work in a scholarly setting to other students, faculty, and community members from all over Utah.

Moriah completed two semesters of research under Dr. Andrew Merryweather on characterizing the open-source, 3D-printed, InMoov robotic hand as part of the the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP). She analyzed the hand’s limitations and abilities through computer and physical testing to better understand improvements that could be made to the design. Presenting at UCUR gave her the opportunity to meet other undergraduate students doing research and to share her own research outside the lab.

Rooftop-Fall Protection

The U Capstone Rooftop-Fall Protection Team.
(From left to right: Kyle Somer, Gary Hsu, Zachary Zwahlen, Clancy Van Dyke, Hunter Bernstein, and Aimee Morgan.
Not pictured are Michel Goulet, Jeremiah Wangsgard, and Ken d’Entremont.)

Prof. Ken d’Entremont of the Ergonomics & Safety Program is advisor to a team of U Capstone students who are seeking to improve the safety of rooftop workers.  This is a group of six undergraduate Mechanical-Engineering students at the University of Utah.  As part of the U Capstone Program, these students participate in a two-semester course sequence in which they apply the design, analysis, and testing skills that they learned in their earlier courses.  Their aim is to design and test a simple and practical system for those people working on residential structures.  Although laws already exist that require fall-protection devices or systems for many rooftop workers, cost or inconvenience may keep employers and workers from using fall protection.

The team and their advisor are each grateful to Mr. Michel Goulet and Mr. Jeremiah Wangsgard of Petzl America for their technical support of this project.  Indeed, it was their concern for the safety of workers performing their jobs at elevation that was the genesis of this U Capstone Project.  They have taken the time to meet with the team at their training facility in Salt Lake City at several key points in the design and development stages of the project.  The project is now entering the testing stage and headed for completion at the end of the Spring Semester.

Construction workers and others at high risk of fall injury include roofers, solar-panel installers, satellite-dish installers, and wind-turbine technicians.  Yahoo! Finance recently showed a graphic of the fastest-growing job in each state.  Out of 50 states, thirteen had fastest-growing jobs that have high fall risks.

Each year, falls from elevation account for almost 39% of the almost 1000 construction-related deaths each year.  Rooftop falls make up 31% of all fall fatalities with the remainder distributed among falls from ladders, scaffolding, or other hazards.  Those working for small construction firms (fewer than 10 employees) make up over 60% of fall-related fatalities.  Hispanic workers are at an even-higher risk of deaths due to construction fall injuries.  (These numbers do not include slips, trips, and falls onto the same elevation.)

Community Outreach: Construction Safety through Fall Prevention

The Construction Trades Department faculty members at Granite Technical Institute (GTI), Mr. Anthony VanHorn (Carpentry) and Mr. Vaughn Nickerson (Electrical), pose with Prof. Ken d’Entremont
following an Ergonomics and Safety Program Community Outreach session on “Construction Safety through Falls Prevention” on January 23, 2019.  [Not shown, GTI’s Mr. Robert Cook (Plumbing).]

The Construction Trades Department of Granite Technical Institute (GTI) hosted Prof. Ken d’Entremont on January 23, 2019 for a Construction Safety Community Outreach session.

This day’s session was about preventing Falls by workers in the Construction Industry.

  • Each year almost 1000 workers die working in Construction with about 38% being from a fall.
  • Falls are the leading cause of death in the Construction Industry.
  • Falls are a major cause of non-fatal injury in the Construction Industry.
  • These fall fatalities include falls from roofs, ladders, scaffolding, and machinery.
  • Over 50% of these fall deaths are in companies employing fewer than 19 people.
  • Hispanic Construction workers face an increased risk (+28%) of fatal falls.

GTI‘s Construction Trades Department provides high-school students in Utah’s Granite School District with the opportunity to learn construction skills including Carpentry, Electrical, and Plumbing through hands-on experience.  Students in this department work on such projects as constructing trailers to be later used as classrooms in the school district.  Students perform the framing, roofing, interior finishing, electrical, HVAC, and all other tasks under the guidance of the Construction Trades faculty who are experienced, licensed contractors.


If you would like more information on Granite Technical Institute’s Construction Trades Department, please contact Mr. James Taylor, Director of Career and Technical Education (CTE).

Rehabilitation and Enabling Technology

Rehabilitation and Enabling Technology

The University of Utah Rehabilitation Center – in partnership with the Colleges of Health, Mechanical Engineering Ergonomics & Safety Program, Computer Science, Businesses, and Architecture and Planning – conducts research and development in the field of assistive technology and adaptive recreation.

The Rehabilitation Center and Tetradapt ( currently has as their core project the TetraSki, the world’s first independent alpine sit-ski for any physical disability (shown above).  The Tetradapt Community is a nonprofit organization working closely with the University of Utah to build, distribute and support assistive technology products and is the vision of adaptive sports leader and founder, Jeffrey Rosenbluth, spinal cord injury medical director at the University of Utah Rehabilitation Center.

Also among the enabling-technology projects undertaken by the partnership listed above is the PADS project (shown below).

PADS–Portable Aquatic Docking System

Ergonomics & Safety Program and Engineering Day 2018

Dr. Mitja Trkov, Mr. Mohammad Homayounour, and Mr. Jon Mortensen spent Saturday morning (Nov. 17th) with more than 70 high school students, demonstrating and explaining ongoing work in the Ergonomics and Safety Lab. This was part of the University of Utah College of Engineering’s Engineering Day event.

(Shown in the photograph above are Mr. Jon Mortensen and Dr. Mitja Trkov speaking to visiting high-school students in the Ergonomics & Safety Laboratory.)

Jon Mortensen at CHASE 2018

Mr. Jon Mortensen traveled to Washington D.C. Sept. 26-28 for the Third IEEE/ACM Conference on Connected Health: Applications, Systems, and Engineering. He presented work aimed at improving simple ergonomic risk evaluation tools (such as RULA) through the use of OpenSim musculoskeletal models. OpenSim models output biomechanical data that may offer higher resolution on injury risk than previous tools.

Mr. Amir Yazdani (Ph.D. 2019) Presents at the 7th CDC/NIOSH NOIRS (National Occupational Injury Research Symposium), Morgantown, WV

The 7th National Occupational Injury Research Symposium – NOIRS – was held October 16-18, 2018 in Morgantown, WV.

NOIRS is the only national forum focused on the presentation of occupational injury research. The Symposium brings together researchers, academicians, labor union representatives, safety professionals, industry leaders, and students from multiple disciplines and fields to advance the public health mission of keep workers safe. This year’s theme was: Advancing Worker Safety in the 21st Century Through Research and Practice.