Sometimes you can learn the best ways to control workplace hazards from research. There's a good chance you already use research. When you collect information about a problem and turn that information into action to improve working conditions, that's research. Do you ever use an industry “best practice”? That's research, too, research that someone else conducted to solve a workplace problem similar to yours.
You don't need expensive equipment or trained experts to do your own research. Here's a simple method:
- Identify a safety or health problem.
- Find out as much as you can about the problem and possible solutions. Here are some ways to collect information:
- Department of Labor statisticians can provide company profiles on work-related injuries and illnesses. For more information, e-mail the Technical Services Division.
- Use safety checklists and employee survey
- Observe people working.
- Examine chemical lists and material safety data sheets
- Compile and analyze the information you collected.
- Decide on action to take.
- Make the changes you decide on.
- Evaluate whether your changes resolved the problem and made the workplace safer or healthier for workers.
Research Projects and Resources
MORA, the Maine Occupational Research Agenda (MORA), promotes occupational safety and health research in Maine.
Research projects from the Maine Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Standards:
- Fatality Assessment, Control and Evaluation (FACE). FACE Reports describe a workplace fatality in Maine and make recommendations for preventing future incidents.
- Employer Attitudes Toward Substance Abuse and Substance Abuse Testing Programs in Maine
- Young Workers Injury Surveillance Pilot Program
- A Study on Temporary, Part-time and Seasonal Employees in Maine (PDF)
- Safer Needles and Sharps Device Usage Survey (PDF)
Statistics on work-related injuries, illnesses and deaths in Maine:
- Report of Fatal Occupational Injuries in Maine
- Occupational Injuries and Illnesses in Maine
- Characteristics of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses in Maine
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics keeps statistics on workplace injuries, illnesses, and deaths.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) conducts research on many workplace safety and health topics.
Does it Really Work? How to Evaluate Safety and Health Changes in the Workplace. NIOSH Publication No. 2004-135. Free from NIOSH 1-800-35-NIOSH.
Barefoot Research, A Workers' Manual for Organising on Work Security gives practical ideas for doing your own research. International Labour Office