Get physical with allergies, germs and ergonomics

Published on .

Do you smell that? It's the unmistakable scent of tollhouse cookies wafting by. You must be in your momma's kitchen because you are certainly not standing at the bus stop. Not since the California Milk Processor Board was forced to abandon a one-of-a-kind campaign to entice commuters into craving a tall, frosty glass of milk by piping the scent of fresh baked, chocolate chip cookies—using scent strips—into San Francisco bus shelters. Last December, just one day after its campaign kicked off, the creators of the ubiquitous "Got Milk?" campaign were ordered by city officials to remove the "aroma marketing" in bus shelters after it received complaints that the smell could cause potential allergic reactions among riders. Molly Ireland, a spokeswoman for the milk board, said that though it was "disappointing" having to remove the scent strips, it gave them the opportunity to test technology for a new form of advertising. "When you're pushing the envelope and trying new things, you can't be too surprised by unexpected turns of events," she said. "And we did get great feedback from consumers on the ground who really liked the strips."

Obsessive compulsives everywhere can now rejoice knowing they'll never have to touch "dirty" paper again. In January, Domtar Inc. announced the introduction of North America's first antimicrobial office paper. The company claims it will protect paper against the growth of bacteria, odors, fungus, mold and mildew. "The development of this paper presents an opportunity to help reduce the proliferation of bacteria in office environments," said Steve Barker, senior VP-pulp and paper sales and marketing at Domtar, in a release. Who knew of the mortal dangers of handling copier and printer paper teeming with bacteria? At least Domtar recommends, in addition to office settings, using the germ-free paper in hospitality, health care, laboratory and archival settings. And Mary Ann Wagner, associate professor of biotechnology at Harrisburg University of Science and Technology in Pennsylvania, said the paper is a good idea and has lots of applications—especially for use in doctor's offices and hospitals, perhaps even for schools. "My sister teaches high school and has to handle lots of students' papers, so she is constantly washing her hands," Wagner said. "Just imagine the average high school student and all the stuff they get into in the course of the day."

After getting home from a long day's work, does your back hurt? Are your fingers cramped? When you ask your boss for an ergonomically correct keyboard, is your request met with a blank stare? If so, you may want to send your resume to one of the companies participating in the World Ergo Cup Award competition to be held during the Applied Ergonomics Conference March 12-15 in Dallas. The Ergo Cup, in its ninth year, recognizes companies that show how ergonomic process improvements can lead to significant rewards, such as increased savings and higher worker morale. At the competition, 32 companies—including Boeing, Dell, Delta Air lines, GE and Toyota—will tout ergonomic successes, including those that may have helped employees literally straighten out after bending over backwards for their bosses. GE has participated in the Ergo Cup since 2002 and was one of last year's three winners. "We have an internal competition to choose who to send to the Ergo Cup, and last year we had a little over 100 teams enter," said Lisa. Brooks, global manager of ergonomics and safety programs for GE Corporate Environmental Programs. This year we have 155 [entrants], and we only select three winners. It's a fun experience for all the teams." The Ergo Cup is presented by IEE and sponsored by the Ergonomics Center of North Carolina.

Most Popular
In this article: