NSC expands efforts to reduce musculoskeletal injuries, awards $265K for workplace safety innovations

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North Carolina Construction News staff writer

Musculoskeletal disorders, or MSDs, are the most common workplace injury and the second leading cause in shortening people’s working years in the U.S. They also cost businesses in the private sector nearly $17 billion each year.

Recognizing the impact these injuries have on workers and employers, the National Safety Council launched the MSD Pledge in June 2022 and the MSD Pledge 2.0 in October 2023 to spur a global movement to transform workplace safety and improve the lives of millions of workers.

More than 200 of the world’s leading organizations – representing about 2.9 million people – have joined this effort to reduce MSD risk and enhance the physical and psychological wellbeing of all workers.

“At NSC, we believe every employee deserves to work in an environment where their safety is valued, and risks and injuries are minimized. The MSD Solutions Lab addresses the critical toll MSDs take on people and businesses, and I’m incredibly proud of the progress we have made in just three years,” said Lorraine Martin, NSC president and CEO. “Between growing the MSD Pledge to more than 200 committed organizations and awarding grants to some of the nation’s top innovators, we are one step closer to helping workers everywhere lead healthier, fuller, MSD-free lives.”

To commemorate this milestone, the MSD Solutions Lab hosted its third annual Workplace Safety Summit: Harnessing Innovation and Collaboration. During the event, a panel discussion was held with Schneider Electric and Superior Tube Products and $265,000 was awarded through the 2024-2025 R2S and MSD Solutions Pilot Grant programs to help nine leading organizations uncover promising new safety solutions.

This year’s R2S grant recipients include:

  • Virginia Tech (Blacksburg, Virginia), awarded $50,000 to examine responsible machine learning and artificial intelligence-based biomechanical exposure assessments across diverse worker groups.
  • North Carolina State University (Raleigh), awarded $50,000 to evaluate an augmented reality-based visualization and optimization tool on work zones to assess real-time object placement.
  • Oregon State University (Corvallis, Oregon), awarded $50,000 to develop a non-invasive lower back injury risk assessment using a smartphone motion capture system with machine learning and musculoskeletal modeling.
  • Wichita State University (Wichita, Kansas), awarded $48,500 to assess the feasibility of utilizing arm support exoskeletons for overhead construction tasks and evaluating the impact on musculoskeletal health.

This year’s grant recipients will present safety findings at the 2025 NSC Safety Congress & Expo or another event next year.

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