LMRIS Sponsored Awards

Rewarding Excellence In Safety & Health Research

 The Research Institute sponsored a variety of programs aimed at increasing awareness of occupational safety and health and enhancing workplace safety worldwide.  Among these activities were high-profile awards sponsored in partnership with prominent health and safety organizations.  The awards, which soughtq to promote excellence in health and safety research, include the Best Paper Award, the Liberty Mutual Award, the Liberty Mutual Prize, and the Liberty Mutual Medal.

Liberty Mutual Prize, International Ergonomics Association

The Liberty Mutual Group, in collaboration with the International Ergonomics Association (IEA), established an annual Liberty Mutual Prize in Occupational Safety and Ergonomics. The award, which includes a cash prize of $5,000 US, recognizes winners for outstanding original research in the field of ergonomics and occupational safety and health.

An IEA-appointed committee, in consultation with the Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety, reviews all reports. The committee judges entries on their explanation of methods to either avoid or mitigate occupational accidents or to promote rehabilitation and return to work.  The Prize is awarded on merit and may not be awarded if a suitable candidate is not among the applicants.

Liberty Mutual Prize, 1998

Dr. Andrew S. Imada, of A.S. Imada Associates, Carmicheal, California, was the recipient of the first annual Liberty Mutual Prize. The winning paper, entitled “A Macroergonomic Approach to Reducing Work-Related Injuries,” suggested that traditional interventions alone may be insufficient to reduce injuries and accidents and that poor safety performance may be viewed as symptomatic of a larger, organizational problem.

Liberty Mutual Prize, 1999

Shirleyann M. Gibbs, Ph.D., of Sydney, Australia was the winner of the 1999 Liberty Mutual Prize in occupational safety and health. The winning paper, entitled “Safety in Health Services with Particular Reference to the Handling of Cytotropic Drugs” discussed Dr. Gibbs’ research on safety among health industry workers who handle cytotoxic drugs and their related waste products. The multinational study revealed a serious issue relative to regulations and indicated an even greater concern with attitudes and training.

Liberty Mutual Prize, 2000

Peter J. McAlindon, Ph.D., of Keybowl, Inc.won the 2000 Liberty Mutual Prize for his research paper, “Alternative Keyboard for Typists with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.” His paper discusses an investigation of ergonomic, biomechanical and typing performances using a newly-designed, alphanumeric keyboard. The ergonomically-designed keyboard eliminates finger movement and drastically reduces wrist movement. The research provided an in-depth analysis and evaluation of the factors that influence typing performance. The purpose was to better understand the capabilities of the typist, the keyboard and the manner in which they interact.

Liberty Mutual Prize, 2001

The Liberty Mutual Prize was awarded to Professor Peter A. Hancock, D.Sc., Ph.D., University of Central Florida, and Selma N. de Ridder, a graduate student at the University of Minnesota. Hancock and deRidder received the Prize for their original research as presented in the paper, “Behavioral Accident Avoidance Science: Understanding and Assessing Response in Accident Incipient Conditions.” The paper discusses an innovative strategy that enables researchers to investigate the behavioral aspects of collision avoidance in a safe and effective manner.

Liberty Mutual Prize, 2002

Hongwei Hsiao, Ph.D., of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Bruce Bradtmiller, Ph.D., of Anthrotech, Inc., and Jennifer J. Whitestone, of Total Contact, Inc., won the 2002 Liberty Mutual Prize. The winners received this recognition for their research, published in the paper, Sizing and Fit of Fall-Protection Harnesses.” Their investigation into a full-body, fall-protection harness system provided the first-detailed, three-dimensional anthropometry of construction workers and identified 15 representative body models for standard-size harness design. The study also revealed deviations between traditional measurements and the three-dimensional scans.

Liberty Mutual Prize, 2003

William S. Marras, Ph.D., Sue A. Ferguson, Ph.D., and Deborah Burr, Ph.D., of Ohio State University, along with Kermit G. Davis, Ph.D., of the University of Cincinnati, and Purnendu Gupta, M.D., of the University of Chicago won the 2003 Liberty Mutual Prize. The winners were selected for their scientific paper entitled, “Kinematic Compromise Predicts Spine Loading in Low Back Pain Patients During Lifting,” which addresses the potential causal mechanisms for recurrent or secondary low back pain (LBP).  In the study, sponsored through a four-year grant by the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, researchers examined biomechanical trends and interactions involved with loading the spine.  The study revealed that the LBP patients experienced greater spine loading than asymptomatic individuals performing the same task.  Another notable finding suggests that a simple kinematic “clinical-test” can accurately predict spine loading for workers returning to work following a LBP injury.

Liberty Mutual Prize, 2004

Professor David M. DeJoy, Ph.D., of the Department of Health Promotion and Behavior University of Georgia (Athens, GA), won the 2004 Liberty Mutual Prize for the paper, “Behavior Change Versus Culture Change: Divergent Approaches to Managing Workplace Safety.”  The winning research examines two prominent and seemingly antagonistic approaches to safety management.  Dr. DeJoy compares and contrasts the approaches; defines characteristics, strengths, and weaknesses; summarizes the empirical support; examines the synergy between the two movements; and addresses strategies for improving workplace safety management.  The final portion of the paper discusses the integration of the best attributes to form a new workable approach.

Liberty Mutual Medal, International Ergonomics Association

The Liberty Mutual Medal in Ergonomics and Occupational Safety is an extension of the Liberty Mutual Prize. Established by Liberty Mutual and the International Ergonomics Association (IEA), the award offers a medal and cash prize of $15,000 U.S.  Every three years, in conjunction with the IEA Triennial Congress, the three previous Liberty Mutual Prize winning entries contend for the Medal. An international review committee evaluates and ranks these previous winners. The year 2000 marked the first presentation of this prestigious award.

Liberty Mutual Medal, 2000

 Andrew S. Imada, Ph.D., of A.S. Imada and Associates won the 2000 Liberty Mutual Medal in Ergonomics and Occupational Safety for his scientific paper titled, “A Macroergonomic Approach to Reducing Work Related Injuries.”  The paper recognizes workplaces as complex and chaotic human systems. He suggests that traditional interventions alone (engineering, ergonomic, management, psychological or training) do not impact systems because they fail to accommodate the intricacies of real organizations. This study suggests that the work systems design approach is effective for reducing injuries and increasing productivity in a competitive and complex work environment.

Liberty Mutual Medal, 2003

Professor Peter A. Hancock, D.Sc., Ph.D., of the University of Central Florida, and Selma N. de Ridder of TNO Human Factors (the Netherlands), won the 2003 Liberty Mutual Medal. The winners authored the research paper entitled, “Behavioral Accident Avoidance Science: Understanding and Assessing Response in Accident Incipient Conditions” (Ergonomics, Vol. 46, No. 12, pp. 1111-35, 2003). The paper discusses an innovative, safe, and effective research strategy to investigate the behavioral aspects of collision avoidance.  In this study, researchers linked two adjacent, full-vehicle driving simulators within a shared single virtual driving world. With this technology, they created situations to provide avoidance responses paralleling those observed in real-world conditions. The test participants encountered each other within the common simulated environment and researchers recorded their accident avoidance responses of the steering wheel, brake, and accelerator activation to the nearest millisecond. A post-experience questionnaire regarding the participants driving habits, simulator experience, and particular response to the experimental events provided qualitative results. The results indicate that 1) the virtual experience created avoidance responses comparable to real-world circumstances, 2) the recorded avoidance responses depended directly upon mutual viewing times, and 3) the short viewing times resulted in a single avoidance action, largely represented by a random choice of swerve to either right or left.

Liberty Mutual Award, The Ergonomics Society and Ergonomics

The Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety and the Ergonomics Society established the Liberty Mutual Award in 2005 to promote excellence in safety and health research.  The annual Award recognizes the paper published in Ergonomics that best contributes to the advancement of the practice of ergonomics.  The editors of Ergonomics in conjunction with the Ergonomics Society Honors Committee select the winning paper from those published in the journal over a given 12-month period.

Liberty Mutual Award, 2005

Using newly defined biomechanical parameters of slips and falls, “Effects of Age-Related Gait Changes on the Biomechanics of Slips and Falls” (Ergonomics, Vol. 46, No. 12, pp. 1136-1160, 2003), discusses a laboratory investigation of gait changes associated with aging and the effect of these changes on initiation of slips and frequency of falls.  Authored by Professors Thurmon E. Lockhart, Ph.D., of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, and Jeffrey C. Woldstad, Ph.D., and James L. Smith, Ph.D., of Texas Tech University, the paper is the first recipient of the 2005 Liberty Mutual Award.

In the winning study, 28 participants representing two age groups (18-29 and 65 and over) walked around a circular track wearing a safety harness.  Researchers introduced a slippery floor surface at random time intervals without the subjects’ knowledge and obtained kinetic and kinematic measurements through force plates and a motion analysis system on both slippery and non-slippery walking surfaces.  The results suggest that characteristics associated with the whole- body transitional acceleration profile (speed changes of the body mass), from heel contact to shortly after heel contact phase of the gait cycle, was an important predictor variable for slip-induced falls among the elderly.  This study revealed the mechanisms associated with age-related gait adaptation and its influencing effect on slip-induced falls.

Liberty Mutual Best Paper Award, International Journal of Industrial Ergonomics

Liberty Mutual and the International Journal of Industrial Ergonomics established the Liberty Mutual Best Paper Award in 1994 as a means of recognizing excellence in safety and health research. Each year, the Editorial Board selects an author(s) of the most exceptional paper published in the Journal during the previous year. Liberty Mutual sponsors the award program because it reflects the company’s commitment to quality research into the reduction of pain and suffering in the workplace.

Liberty Mutual Best Paper Award, 1994

 “The Effectiveness of a Joint Labor-Management Program in Controlling Awkward Postures of the Trunk, Neck, and Shoulders:  Results of a Field Study”

The inaugural Liberty Mutual Best Paper Award was presented to Dr. W. Monroe Keyserling of the University of Michigan along with colleagues Milt Brouwer and Barbara Silverstein.  A longitudinal study was undertaken in a large automotive corporation to evaluate the effectiveness of a participative union-management program in reducing work-related musculoskeletal injuries and disorders, including those caused by awkward postures. Following a one-week training program, plant personnel used checklists to evaluate posture on 335 jobs in selected departments at four participating plants. The results of these evaluations were used to develop an intervention program in each plant for controlling awkward postures. The study found that the labor-management teams were generally effective in reducing awkward postures at the trunk and shoulders. There were significant decreases in the time spent in awkward trunk and shoulder postures as a result of interventions that were implemented during the study. However, the teams were not effective in controlling neck postures as the frequency of awkward neck postures actually increased over the course of the study.

 Liberty Mutual Best Paper Award, 1995

 “Allocation of functions to human and machines in a manufacturing environment: Part I — Guidelines for the practitioner” and “Allocation of functions to humans and machines in a manufacturing environment: Part II — The scientific basis (knowledge base) for the guide”

The 1995 Liberty Mutual Best Paper Award was presented to Dr. Anil Mital of the University of Cincinnati along with colleagues Arif Motorwala, Mangesh Kulkarni, Murray Sinclair and Carys Siemieniuch.  The guide was based on numerous published and unpublished scientific studies and was intended to enhance worker safety and productivity. The principal focus of the work was on the correct allocation of function between humans and automated systems and machines in the manufacturing context..

Liberty Mutual Best Paper Award, 1996

 “Upper body reach posture prediction for ergonomic evaluation models”

The 1996 Liberty Mutual Best Paper Award was presented to Drs. Eui S. Jung and Min K. Chung of the Pohang University of Science and Technology, Korea and Dr. Dohyung Kee of Keimyung University, Korea.   The paper receiving the award dealt with the proper assessment of human reach posture- an essential function for workplace design.  An analytic reach prediction algorithm was developed and compared to existing ergonomic evaluation models.  The analytic reach prediction algorithm, which employed inverse kinematics methods, was found to show better performance than traditional heuristic models.

Liberty Mutual Best Paper Award, 1997

 “Position Controlled Input Device for Handicapped: Experimental Studies with a Footmouse”

The 1997 Liberty Mutual Best Paper Award was presented to Dr. Johannes Springer and Ms. Christa Siebes of the Institute of Industrial Engineering and Ergonomics in Aachen, Germany. In this winning paper, “Position Controlled Input Device for Handicapped: Experimental Studies with a Footmouse,” Dr. Springer and Ms. Siebes presented the results of an experiment that tested the practical application of a footmouse designed to enable hand/arm-disabled people to perform computer data entry in an office environment.

Liberty Mutual Best Paper Award, 1998

“Ergonomic Intervention Research for Improved Musculoskeletal Health: A Critical Review”

Dr. Rolf Westgaard of the Norwegian Institute of Technology, Trondheim, Norway and Dr. Jorgen Winkel of the National Institute of Working Life, Solna, Sweden were the recipients of the 1998 Liberty Mutual Best Paper Award. The winning paper, “Ergonomic Intervention Research for Improved Musculoskeletal Health: A Critical Review,” was selected from more than 100 articles published in the Journal during 1997. The paper presents a comprehensive review of 30 ergonomic intervention studies from 1966 to 1994. The authors developed and implemented classification models for intervention research aimed at helping industry determine which interventions have the best chance of success. Not only did the authors provide a frame of reference for intervention strategy, but they established seven quality criteria for “good” scientific ergonomic intervention research.

Liberty Mutual Best Paper Award, 1999

“Work/Rest: Part I – Guidelines for the Practitioner” and “Work/Rest: Part II – The Scientific Basis (Knowledge Base) for the Guide”

Dr. Stephan Konz, retired professor from the Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering, Kansas State University was the 1999 recipient of the Liberty Mutual Best Paper Award. Selected from more than 100 published articles, Dr. Konz received the award for his two-part paper, “Work/rest: Part I – Guidelines for the practitioner” and “Work/rest: Part II – The scientific basis (knowledge base) for the guide.” Part I introduces seven guidelines for the practitioner/ergonomist that address workplace fatigue, while Part II provides a more detailed analysis.

Liberty Mutual Best Paper Award, 2000

“Evaluation of a Biomechanical Simulation Model for Sagittal Plane Lifting”

Tracey M. Bernard, Ph.D., P.E., of Murray State University, Kentucky; Mohamed M. Ayoub, Ph.D., P.E., C.P.E., of Texas Tech University; and Chiuhsiang Joe Lin, Ph.D., of Chung Yuan Christian University, Taiwan, won the 2000 Liberty Mutual Best Paper Award. The Award recipients authored the scientific paper, “Evaluation of a Biomechanical Simulation Model for Sagittal Plane Lifting.” The researchers evaluated a computerized, biomechanical model that simulates human motion to predict stresses on the body. The study, focused on the action of lifting, compared the model predictions to the movements and stresses of actual human subjects. The various tasks considered included the range of lift, load weight, box size and gender. The results showed a high correlation between the model predictions and human parameters.

Liberty Mutual Best Paper Award, 2001

“Evaluation and Assessment of Lumbar Load During Total Shifts for Occupational Manual Materials Handling Jobs within the Dortmund Lumbar Load Study (DOLLY)”

Researchers from the University of Dortmund, Germany, won the 2001 Best Paper Award for their paper, “Evaluation and Assessment of Lumbar Load During Total Shifts for Occupational Manual Materials Handling Jobs within the Dortmund Lumbar Load Study (DOLLY).” The winning paper, authored by Matthias Jäger, PhD, Claus Jordan, Alwin Luttmann, PhD, Wolfgang Laurig, PhD, and members of the DOLLY Group, describes a study in which researchers used video analysis and biomechanical modeling to examine the occupationally induced load on the lumbar spine during manual materials handling.

Liberty Mutual Best Paper Award, 2002

“An Investigation into a Mechanical Vibration Human Model Constructed According to the Relations Between the Physical, Psychological, and Physiological Reactions of Human Exposed to Vibration”

Faculty of Engineering Professors, Mitsunori Kubo, Dr. Eng.; Fumio Terauchi, Ph.D.; and Hiroyuki Aoki, Dr. Eng., of the Department of Design and Architecture at Chiba University (Chiba, Japan) and Professor Yoshiyuki Matsuoka, Ph.D., of the Faculty of Science and Technology at Keio University (Kanagawa, Japan) won the 2002 Liberty Mutual Best Paper Award. The award recipients authored “. . . An Investigation into a Mechanical Vibration Human Model Constructed According to the Relations Between the Physical, Psychological, and Physiological Reactions of Human Exposed to Vibration.”   The winning paper decribes a study in which researchers developed a mechanical vibration model to simulate the physical reactions of the human body when exposed to external vibrations. The investigation revealed resonance points from head, chest, and abdominal shaking in the frequency range 2–11 Hz. Further, the study revealed a relationship between the physical reactions and the resulting psychological and physiological reactions. The resulting synthetic vibration model has significant implications in the field of industrial design, particularly in the automotive industry, where human comfort is often considered in product development.

Liberty Mutual Best Paper Award, 2003

“Application of Usability Testing to the Development of Medical Equipment.  Usability Testing of a Frequently Used Infusion Pump and a New User Interface for an Infusion Pump Developed with a Human Factors Approach”

Researchers from Chalmers University of Technology, Division of Human Factors Engineering (Gothenburg, Sweden), won the 2003 Liberty Mutual Best Paper Award.  Karin Garmer, Ph.D., a Chalmers’ alumnus and health and safety engineer at Feelgood Hälsa Sverige AB occupational health service, Volvo Car Corporation, (Gothenburg, Sweden); Erik Liljegren, M.Sc., a doctoral student; Associate Professor, Anna-Lisa Osvalder, Ph.D.; and Professor, Sven Dahlman, Ph.D., authored the scientific paper, “Application of Usability Testing to the Development of Medical Equipment.  Usability Testing of a Frequently Used Infusion Pump and a New User Interface for an Infusion Pump Developed with a Human Factors Approach” (International Journal of Industrial Ergonomics,Vol. 29, No. 3, pp. 145 – 159, 2002).  The winning paper addresses a poorly designed human-machine interface of medical equipment that increases the risk for human error.  The infusion pump, a common medical device, often involves workplace accidents due to handling.  In this study, researchers tested a new user interface that was designed to improve usability and reduce errors.  The results showed a reduction in the number of handling problems, yet a high number of errors and a need for further improvements.  Researchers also found that it is important to use different data collection techniques when identifying usability requirements.  Experienced users had the competence and self-confidence to be critical and suggest improvements, while novice users encountered most of the serious problems and made the most mistakes.

Liberty Mutual Best Paper Award, 2004

“Effect of Design of Two-Wheeled Containers on Mechanical Loading”

Researchers from Amsterdam, The Netherlands, won the 2004 Liberty Mutual Best Paper Award for their scientific paper entitled, “Effect of Design of Two-Wheeled Containers on Mechanical Loading,” (International Journal of Industrial Ergonomics, Vol. 31, No. 2, February 2003, pp. 73-86).  The winning authors include researchers Idsart Kingma, Ph.D., P. Paul F.M. Kuijer, Ph.D., Marco J.M. Hoozemans, Ph.D., and Professor Jaap H. van Dieën, Ph.D., of the Institute of Fundamental and Clinical Human Movement Sciences, Faculty of Human Movement Sciences at Vrije Universiteit (VU), as well as researchers Allard J. van der Beek, Ph.D., of the Department of Social Medicine, Institute for Research in Extramural Medicine at VU Medical Centre, and Professor Monique H.W. Fring-Dresen, Ph.D., of Coronel Institute for Occupational and Environmental Health at the Academic Medical Centre.  In this study, researchers examined the design of a two-wheeled container, typically used for refuse collection, and its effect musculoskeletal disorder risk.  Specifically, researchers looked at two design parameters – center of mass (COM) and handle location — and their impact on joint loading.  Researchers found that (1) net torques at the low back, shoulder, and elbow were relatively low in the standard container design; (2) backward displacement of the COM increased low back loading, while forward displacement increased shoulder and elbow loading; (3) COM displacement in the direction of the wheel axis did not have negative joint loading effects and reduced the forces needed to tilt the container; (4) an increase of the handle height slightly reduced the required vertical forces without adverse effect on joint loading.  The findings suggest that moving the COM of the loaded container in the direction of the wheel axis and slightly raising the handle height will improve two-wheeled container design.  The newly designed container may help to prevent low back and shoulder disorders associated with such pushing and pulling tasks.

Liberty Mutual Best Paper Award, 2005

“Scapular Range of Motion in a Quasi-Wheelchair Push”

A study of shoulder kinematics during wheelchair use revealed a new method for researchers to investigate awkward or harmful shoulder postures during repetitive tasks.  The published research paper, “Scapular Range of Motion in a Quasi-Wheelchair Push” (International Journal of Industrial Ergonomics, Vol. 33, pp. 237 – 248, 2004) won the 2005 Liberty Mutual Best Paper Award.  The authors include researchers from the Veterans Affairs Pittsburgh Health Care System and the University of Pittsburgh, Alicia M. Koontz, Ph.D., RET, Rory A. Cooper, Ph.D., Michael L. Boninger, M.D., Aaron L. Souza, Ph.D., and Brian T. Fay, Ph.D.  Ten people with a spinal cord injury participated in the study.  Each subject used his/her personal wheelchair that was secured onto a test platform.  Researchers attached infrared markers to designated bony landmarks.  Researchers observed that the scapula was rotated slightly upward (1.5 degrees), minimally protracted (15 degrees), and maximally tipped forward (22 degrees) at the beginning of the push.  In addition, the humerus was maximally extended, abducted, and internally rotated.  As subjects moved forward along the pushrim, the protraction angle increased while the forward tipping angle decreased.  As the push progressed, the humerus became increasingly flexed with small changes observed in humeral abduction and internal rotation.  Using a stepwise, multiple-regression analysis procedure, the researchers discovered that the torso, humeral flexion and extension, and abduction angles are good predictors for estimating forward tipping as well as upward and downward rotation of the scapula.  The regression equations enable researchers to estimate scapular orientation during propulsion, which could provide further insight into specific biomechanical factors that lead to shoulder pathology.