I have refined my research topic from the beginning on the semester.  I’m focusing on construction safety and the use of heavy equipment.  Researching this topic brought me across the article “Visibility – Related Fatalities Related to Construction Equipment”.  I found this article particularly interesting because it covers some of the leading causes of equipment related fatalities, but it looks closely at one of the root causes and ways to solve it.  It talks about issues such as blind spots, glare, direction of travel, etc..  The reason it was so inspiring to me was the fact that this article picked one variable related to equipment safety and dissected it.  By doing this research and shedding the light on the topic it creates a pathway for improvements to be made.  After all the only way to fix something is to identify the problem first.

Jimmie W. Hinze & Jochen Teizer; “Visibility-Related Fatalities Related to Construction Safety”; Safety Science Volume 49 (2001) pg 709 – 718. 

An article I ran across when researching my topic was “One Approach for an Ergonomics Program in a Large Manufacturing Environment.”  This is an article about the Everett Division of the Boeing Company and their quest to tackle problems with Ergonomic issues when assembling aircraft.  A group of safety professionals was tasked with going around shop by shop to assess specific ergonomic hazards and teams were formed by a mixture of Shop Level supervisors and hourly associates to assist with this.  These teams made ergo assessments of each shop and offered recommendations of how to solve specific issues.  Team members were then assigned a task in which to implement and help get the solutions in place to attack issues.  Deciding which recommendations took priority around the facility depended on cost, the number of employees it would effect, how quickly it could be implemented, and the ergo benefit itself.  A numerical value was derived from these variables and priority was given to the highest scoring issues.  Issues were then attacked in descending order of the assigned numerical values.  In addition to this, ergo training was provided to employees that covered topics of neutral postures, ergonomic risk factors dealing with repetitive motion, and back training.  Stretching exercises were also put into place for employees to voluntarily participate in at the beginning of their shifts.  I found this article was very meaningful to me because Boeing took a proactive approach on their ergonomic issues rather than just sitting back and dealing with them in a reactive manner.  This is indeed what Occupational Safety Professionals are needed for and it is refreshing to read about how a company attacked its ergonomic issues before more of its employees could get injured on the job.   

During the course of my research, I happened across the article “Safety, Incentives, and the Reporting of Work-Related Injuries Among Union Carpenters: “You’re Pretty Much Screwed If You Get Hurt at Work”. Catchy title right? The researchers attempted to explore the relationship between union carpenters surveyed and their exposure to safety incentive programs, their attitudes towards them, and the implications of safety programs. While my research is primarily focused on incentive programs and the effects on injury reporting, the article is further reaching and includes information on reporting policies, disciplinary policies, and observation programs. The researchers discussed the results and found the comments from the respondents were extremely beneficial and helped to explain some of the results. Though none of the information was ground breaking, the research was well conducted and the information was explained clearly. The reason this article was very influential was not solely the research itself, but the discussion of the results and the conclusion also made me question my own ideas. I have been hung up on the idea that safety incentives were only cash rewards for not getting hurt and the programs were either conducted as a group benefit or an individual benefit. The article made me re-think my idea of an incentive and led me to other articles which will be very beneficial. An incentive could be a construction company with a low injury rate is awarded a contract over another company with a high injury rate. Injury reporting could be stifled by the company, not just the individual. While this idea is not new, it simply did not dawn on me before reading through this article. 

The quote in the title comes from one of the comments in the article.  If you want to find out more, it is available through the digital library. 

 

Lipscomb, H. J., Nolan, J., Patterson, D., Sticca, V., & Myers, D. J. (2013). Safety, Incentives, and the Reporting of Work-Related Injuries Among Union Carpenters: “You’re Pretty Much Screwed If You Get Hurt at Work”. American Journal of Industrial Medicine, 56, 38-399.

The referred subject journal article has indeed inspired me a lot. In my advocacy for the integration of health and safety concern to engineering curriculum, David, a professor in the University of Melbourne shares my thoughts and philosophy. In this article, contained a twenty seven safety-deficient related cases that resulted in serious fatalities, ranging from hundreds to thousands in different countries. The article looks at causes of these mishaps; suggestive lessons and integrating of such safety concern to engineering academic curriculum.
Interestingly, is the fact that these 27 cases were communicated to undergraduate engineering students and made participatory, which redefined and transposed their engineering aptitude from basic system designs to Occupational safe design.

David C. Shallcross., October 2012, Department of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering, University of Melbourne, Victoria 3010, Australia. Published by Elsevier B.V.

The article which has had the greatest impact on my research thus far is entitled “Preventing Occupational Exposure to Pesticides: Using Participatory Research with Latino Farmworkers to Develop an Intervention” written by Sara A. Quandt, et al. in the Journal of Immigrant Health (Vol. 3, No. 2, 2001). Researchers designed a community-based behavior change intervention with the intent to educate Latino cucumber and tobacco farmworkers in North Carolina on the dangers of pesticide residues, inform them of their rights and regulations under the EPA’s Worker Protection Standard, and encourage good hygiene, storage and disposal practices that reduce not only the farmworker’s exposure to harmful pesticide residues, but also reduce the exposure experienced secondhand by their families.  It is poignant to note the stark differences in perspective relevant to the dangers of pesticide exposure, as expressed to researchers by three groups involved in the study.  Researchers interviewed health care personnel working in farming communities who fear that pesticide exposure goes unnoticed and unreported either because Latino farmworkers confuse the symptoms with food poisoning or heat exposure, don’t have transportation to seek medical care, or fear losing their jobs. Farmers and Cooperative Extension agents – those responsible for providing and enforcing safe work environments – don’t believe that there is a problem at all and believe regulations are a burden; there are fewer chemicals used today and they believe that those which are used are safe.  And finally, perhaps the most shocking of all, was to read of Latino farmworkers who stated they didn’t wash their hands after handling sprayed plants for fear of developing arthritis; they didn’t shower afterwards because cooling the overheated body with cold water weakens it; pesticides could not be absorbed through one’s skin; or that pesticides only negatively affected ‘weaker’ people (aka women). To read about the intervention itself is very interesting.  To be brief, researchers chose a community participation framework that gave the Latino farmworkers a voice and a sense of duty and importance; this intervention approach seemed effective in changing the perspective of farmworkers. For me, this article reinforced that as safety professionals we must recognize that ‘safe’ is based on cultural definitions, previously held (mis)conceptions and the presence/absence of adequate training. It also reminded me that training and interventions are not just for frontline employees (like farmworkers) but also a necessity for management level positions (farmers, co-op agents); otherwise what results is a perpetually dangerous work environment in which ‘the blind are leading the blind’.

The topic I’ve selected for our research project, safety through design, is quite broad and very interesting.  Having read numerous studies on this topic, the paper which has been the most interesting to me thus far is a paper titled “With the Best Will in the World”.  This paper by John Anderson gives insight onto safety design in numerous countries around the world.  Some of the countries represented are, Sweden, New Zealand, South Africa as well as the United Kingdom.  While there isn’t but a few paragraphs on each country, the information provides a great base of knowledge from which I can expound upon.

 

Reference

John, A. (2009). With the best will in the world. In (pp. 63-69). doi:www.shponline.co.uk

Undoubtedly, there are different safety websites. Most of which are private and professional websites discussing HSE among other associated topics. Though, some are indepth than others. I become particularly concern and appreciate nonetheless, websites managed by departments of countries for Health and Safety matters. It emphasizes how much such standards are given the required seriousness and priorities. Like the OSHA of the US and IOSH of the UK, that is also how I have come to discover recently the website managed in the Republic of Ireland-http://www.hsa.ie. The HSA being: “Health and Safety Authority. In fact, the website url depicts its peculiarity. Though, I am not an Irish man, but I think I appreciate an organization that fits intothe standard of Health and Safety as expected. Founded in 1989, the HSA covers required aspects there is for Health and Safety issues for employees in Ireland which can also apply else where. I personally like this website as it is like an HSE “Supreme Court”. There are various links that deal with “every industry, legislation, inspections, statistics, work place safety” and many more. I would recommend that this website be explored than described by my words.

There is a plethora of safety websites on the Internet.  Most of which only serve one purpose, to provide information.  In most cases, especially sites like osha.gov, the information is presented in a very dry format.  This makes is hard to stay on the site for extended periods of time and practically ensures no one will visit the site leisurely.  While obtaining information is almost certainly the main reason most people visit safety sites, this does not necessitate that the information be presented in a dull manner consistent with most safety sites.  The aforementioned reasons are why I decided to pick  osh.net as my safety website.  Osh.net is full of all kinds of different safety information, from construction to environmental to industrial hygiene.  I really appreciate how the site has been set up.  You can click on an area of interest and then the following page will have specifics on the field you choose along with many other related fields or applications.  There are links to many of the more traditional safety websites, such as NIOSH and OSHA but there are also links to different articles or recent news on whatever you happen to be searching for.  Another feature I like about this website is the many topics which are relevant to safety such as, professional development, recent legal cases regarding safety and even safety humor sites.  Overall I am very impressed with this website and would recommend others check it out for themselves.

I chose the website talkingsafety.org because it specializes in methods of dealing with keep young workers safe in the workplace.  On the title page it states that 16 young workers are injured everyday in the state of New South Wales Australia.  There is also a resource for supervisors of young workers to gather info on effective strategies for managing and keeping safe young employees.