MEMIC backs Illinois university’s injury prevention research

Workers’ Compensation Insurance Company MEMIC (Maine Employers’ Mutual Insurance Company) funds university research through a second annual grant as part of its efforts to promote workplace safety.

MEMIC has awarded $30,000 to the University of Illinois (ISU) to research the use of wearable sensors to minimize workplace injuries in the US. The Kathy University School of Insurance and Risk Management will study warehouse workers using wearable technology, collecting physiological data useful for treatment plans and training programs related to workplace injuries.

“MEMIC’s mission is to make workers better,” said Dr. Luis F. Pieretti, industrial hygiene manager at the MEMIC Group and architect of the MEMIC Safety Research Center. “One of the ways we improve the health and safety of our policyholders is to gain more and more knowledge about workplace hazards – not just the ones we already know, but new ones as well.”

MEMIC first grant, in December 2021funded a faculty research group at Indiana University of Pennsylvania looking for ways to reduce slips, trips, and falls in the workplace.

“This university-funded program allows us to support the next generation of security professionals while gaining knowledge that can benefit our policyholders and the industry,” said Marianne Hoff, vice president of claims control at MEMIC. “This year’s winner is right in this combination of using technology and safety to provide people with more information about their exposures and potential means of controlling those exposures.”

Using wearable technology research to prevent worker claims for damages before they happen could help insurers and companies mitigate risk, Pieretti said. “If the claims happen, it means that the exposure has already happened,” he said. “Integrating wearables and technology will help prevent injury and illness, as well as allow employers to be more efficient in the way they work and reduce costs.”

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Support for academic research is not MEMIC’s only attempt to prevent workplace injuries. The company offers E-Ergo, a service that identifies ergonomic problems that need to be addressed in workplaces, and uses TuMeke, a program that provides an ergonomics assessment.

“What wearable technology brings to the game is very similar to what we’ve seen with telematics and the ability to provide live, real-time behavioral information from the device,” Hoff said. “Through the wearable technology being researched, employers will be able to do similar monitoring and data accumulation to better target these impacts and improve safety programs.”

The MEMIC grant will fund wearable sensor research work by ISU Katie School Executive Director James R. Jones, Associate Professor Dr. Theis Sirmans, two graduate students and four undergraduate students.

“We are very proud to be investing in thought leadership and the future of security,” Hoff said. “The grant provides us with a great way to do this by supporting the next generation in our safety and loss control profession, as well as continuing to raise awareness in this area and the importance of providing safe and healthy workplaces for our employees.”

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