INHS and EWU Receive Grant to Continue Grocery Ergonomics Study
February 18, 2010
Spokane, WA

Spokane, WA ~ Inland Northwest Health Services (INHS) and St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Institute have been awarded an $188,610 grant by the Department of Labor and Industries’ Safety and Health Investment Projects (SHIP) program to test participatory ergonomics in the grocery industry. The proposed project is to be a combined effort between INHS, St. Luke’s and Eastern Washington University with oversight by the Eastern Washington Center of Occupational Health and Education (COHE).

The SHIP program, authorized by the Washington Legislature, is a grant program designed to encourage new approaches to improving workplace safety and health. Last year, INHS, St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Institute and Eastern Washington University were granted an award to implement Phase 1 of their Ergonomics study with Yoke’s Fresh Markets. With Phase 1 nearly complete, the team will begin implementing Phase 2 from the grant received. The next phase of the project expands to include vertical integration of participatory ergonomics into the grocery supply chain workers.

Ergonomics can prevent work-related musculoskeletal disorders, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, which continue to be a prominent cause of worker compensation costs and permanent disability among workers. This project will test a participatory ergonomics training program in a grocery store setting and observe its effect on workplace safety. If the project has positive results, grocery stores and grocery warehouse employees in Washington State will be able to implement an ergonomic program using the outputs of the project, primarily an ergonomics process plan.

Team members include Dan Anton, PT, PhD, ATC, an Assistant Professor of Physical Therapy at EWU; Douglas Weeks, PhD, Senior Research Investigator at INHS and St. Luke's; and Daniel Hansen, DC, Director of the Eastern Washington COHE at St. Luke’s.

The Eastern Washington COHE works to develop programs to improve the quality, cost effectiveness and consistency of care for injured workers in eastern Washington. It is guided by a group of professionals from businesses, labor, health care and the state. A University of Washington study clearly showed COHE’s success in reducing disability and returning injured workers to the job. COHE now has 863 participating physicians and providers and 25 participating hospitals in 16 Eastern Washington counties and is processing over 1,400 L&I State Fund claims a month. COHE is sponsored by St. Luke's, a service of INHS, and is currently administered as a pilot project by Washington State Department of Labor & Industries. For information about COHE, visit www.gocohe.com.

Inland Northwest Health Services (INHS) is a non-profit corporation in Spokane, Washington providing collaboration in health care services on behalf of its member hospitals Deaconess Medical Center, Providence Holy Family Hospital, Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center & Children's Hospital and Valley Hospital & Medical Center, and the community. INHS companies include St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Institute, Information Resource Management, Northwest MedStar, Community Health Education and Resources (CHER), Health Training Network, health@work, Northwest TeleHealth, and the INHS Center of Philanthropy. For more information, visit www.inhs.org.

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