Scientists typically need two key components to carry out research: a well-grounded research proposal and strong financial support. Recently several projects received funding awards from national and provincial agencies. Here is a scan of what’s recently been given the green light.
Measuring guide’s uptake in B.C.
Conducting research and creating user-friendly materials are the first steps in bringing evidence into practice. At IWH, a team conducted a systematic review on participatory ergonomic interventions. Then, led by Associate Scientist Dwayne Van Eerd, an evidence guide called Reducing MSD hazards in the workplace: A guide to successful participatory ergonomics programs was developed. The next step is the aim of a new WorkSafeBC grant awarded to Van Eerd. With this new grant, an IWH team will disseminate the guide to target audiences in British Columbia and measure its uptake.
Examining depression in the workplace
When workers are injured, being depressed and in poor physical health can increase the likelihood of disability. A team of researchers, led by Associate Scientist Dr. Andrea Furlan, will carry out a systematic review on depression in the workplace. Funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the team will look at workplace-based programs that may prevent disability, manage depression or rehabilitate workers to promote stay at work or return to work. Several stakeholders and decision-makers – including staff from Ontario’s Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care – will provide input in to the review process, and suggest how the results may be used.
The following projects received grants from the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board’s (WSIB) Research Advisory Council:
Developing a tool for the health-care sector
A newly launched software tool, the Health & Safety Smart Planner, was developed with the support of several grants, led by Dr. Emile Tompa. The tool walks users through an economic evaluation to determine the benefits and costs of health and safety initiatives. Although it was designed for manufacturing and service work-places in Ontario, it could be used for other sectors. The health-care sector, however, is organized differently. This new grant will enable the research team to examine the need for economic evaluations in this sector in Ontario, and determine how they could be conducted by modifying the software or using other alternatives.
Reducing OHS risk among vulnerable workers
Ontario’s workforce comprises many immigrant and low-literacy workers. Yet, many prevention initiatives are developed without considering workers’ literacy levels or language competencies. To address this, a collaborative team with representatives from the WSIB, IWH and Ontario’s health and safety associations will develop pictograms (or visual symbols) and related training to assist in identifying and controlling musculoskeletal disorder hazards in the service sector, specifically for hotel/motel workers.
Comparing two groups
Since 1998 in Ontario, the number of days of benefit payments to injured workers has been steadily increasing. Ongoing research shows that these increases coincide with a policy change in Ontario. A study, led by Senior Scientist Dr. Sheilah Hogg-Johnson, will compare two groups of injured workers receiving WSIB wage-replacement benefits: one group whose injury date was in 1993, while the other group’s injury date was in 2005. The researchers will compare the health outcomes, claims outcomes and specific features of claims management. In particular, the researchers will investigate whether the characteristics (relating to the worker, injury, workplace or claims management) of claimants with prolonged duration are different between the groups.
Developing leading indicators
Sometimes an organization uses injury and illness rates to help keep track of health and safety performance. These rates are called trailing indicators. Other times, an organization looks at leading indicators, which can provide a sense of an organization’s safety performance and its potential for injuries before they occur. Associate Scientist Dr. Lynda Robson is leading a research team that will look at whether data from OHS management instruments can be grouped together to form a leading indicator.
Source: At Work, Issue 61, Summer 2010: Institute for Work & Health, Toronto