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Toward a typology of dynamic and hazardous work environments.

Scharf-T; Vaught-C; Kidd-P; Steiner-L; Kowalski-K; Wiehagen-B; Cole-H
NOIRS 2000--Abstracts of the National Occupational Injury Research Symposium 2000, Pittsburgh, PA, October 17-19. Pittsburgh, PA: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 2000 Oct; :44
Mining, fishing, logging, farming, construction, and transport: by many measures, these are the most hazardous industries in the U.S. Is there an underlying consistency to the fatality records? Or are the causes of occupational fatalities so unique to each industry that no common features can be determined? On the one hand, we see the same jobs ranking highest on fatalities year after year - suggesting a consistent pattern. On the other hand, the causes of these fatalities are quite specific to each of the jobs, e.g. falls from heights (construction), tractor overturns (agriculture), roof collapse (mining), etc. - suggesting unrelated mechanisms of injury. We suggest that the common feature of these jobs is that the work environments are under constant change. The central thesis of this paper is that the requirement to continually adapt and respond to a dynamic and hazardous work environment places workers in these jobs at highest risk, regardless of the specifics of the hazards. What our observations suggest is that workers react in similar ways to changing hazardous situations, even though the specific hazards may be quite different. Translated into a research hypothesis, what are the common components of change that can be identified across different dynamic and hazardous work environments? More specifically, since the hazards are very different, are there common qualities about the dynamic nature of the hazards that can be identified? Two questions are implied: 1) what makes an environment hazardous, and 2) what makes a work environment dynamic? These questions are examined and discussed. A preliminary typology of dynamic and hazardous work environments is proposed, and the workload pressures on the workers are considered. The long-term goal of this effort is to improve the safety and efficacy of organizational-level work practices in dynamic and hazardous work environments.
Accidents; Accident-prevention; Injuries; Traumatic-injuries; Injury-prevention; Work-environment; Workplace-studies; Mining-industry; Construction-industry; Lumber-industry; Fishing-industry; Agricultural-industry; Transportation-industry
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NOIRS 2000 Abstracts of the National Occupational Injury Research Symposium 2000, Pittsburgh, PA., October 17-19, 2000