College of Engineering establishes new workplace safety and health center

Published: Feb 9, 2018 2:00:00 PM
Media Contact: Chris Anthony,, 334.844.3447

Auburn University has formally established a new interdisciplinary center in occupational safety, ergonomics and injury prevention in the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering.

The center is housed in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering and focuses on improving safety in the workplace as well as in public areas through graduate education and collaboration with industry partners to reduce the risk of injury and illness.

Research using motion-capture technology is shown.
Research using motion-capture technology is shown.

“We are thrilled to be officially established as a center at Auburn because it allows us to expand our opportunities for research and to further our mission of improving health and safety of workers,” said center director Jerry Davis, Daniel F. and Josephine Breeden Professor. “Recognition at this level will enhance the visibility of our programs, and create more opportunities for our students and faculty as we work with university counterparts, the professional safety community and government and industry collaborators.”

The Occupational Safety and Ergonomics Program has operated for more than 35 years as a component of the Deep South Education and Research Center, one of 18 centers funded nationwide by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, or NIOSH, to train graduate students in occupational safety, ergonomics, human factors, industrial hygiene and occupational health nursing, among other disciplines.

The program is comprised of several nationally and internationally recognized faculty, including Auburn Industrial and Systems Engineering faculty members LuAnn Carpenter, Sean Gallagher, Richard Garnett, Mark Schall, Richard Sesek and Robert Thomas.

“Our work is centered on the safety and health of people at work,” Davis said. “With the support of NIOSH, we are working to train a cadre of industrial hygienists, nurses, engineers and physicians to work in this area by focusing their talents – engineering skills in our case – on the work-related issues of injury and health.”

Currently, the center’s interdisciplinary work is primarily in partnership with the University of Alabama at Birmingham, but Auburn researchers from mechanical and biosystems engineering, computer science, psychology, kinesiology, pharmacy, nursing and others also are involved in projects as well. Davis said the center welcomes collaborations with all who are interested in occupational safety and ergonomics.

“With Auburn’s longstanding expertise in this area and established partnerships with industry and peer institutions, our college is uniquely positioned to leverage these assets to form a world-class Center for Occupational Safety, Ergonomics and Injury Prevention,” said Christopher B. Roberts, dean of engineering. “I am confident Jerry and his team will take our research in this area to an entirely new level of prominence.”

“This effort is the culmination of more than 35 years of work in the field, and we are fortunate to be able to build upon the work of our predecessors who have provided a strong foundation,” Davis said. “We feel that we are in the top tier of occupational safety and ergonomics programs in the country, and we will strive to be the top program in our field. As we continue our tradition of excellence, we are eager to share the innovative work being completed here at Auburn University.”

- Written by Carol Nelson