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Activities: NIOSH Research Projects

Formerly, NIOSH did not characterize projects as specifically targeting small business. It was frequently easier to partner with, and disseminate information to larger businesses and their associated trade and professional organizations. With the new NORA emphasis programs, that is changing. Projects are now ongoing and planned to engage small business partners in robust research and outreach efforts designed to make a difference in workplace safety and health within the small business environment. Some of these initial projects are noted below.

NIOSH Workplace Solutions Database

The Workplace Solutions (WPS) database is a rapidly accessible, user-friendly, occupational safety and health database designed to better serve the small business community by making the results of current and past research readily available. It stresses simple solutions-based information relevant to small business workplaces which can affect the transfer of research to practice. Because of the lack of or limited access to resources such as expertise, technology, finances, and time, many small businesses can benefit from adapted risk assessments/management approaches that are provided to assist their efforts. The peer-reviewed WPS database contains accurate and concise information on the prevention of occupational injury and illness. The information represents a compilation of material from a diverse array of internal, national, and international sources, and is intended to address the occupational safety and health problems of a wide range of small business owners and their employees. As a central source of information, the WPS database allows diverse segments of the small business community to share a wealth of information that is not readily accessible, provide feedback, suggest new solutions, and avoid duplication of effort. The information presented on the site includes hazard information and solutions (substitution, engineering controls, work practices, etc.) targeted to specific small business segments, occupations, hazards, and tasks. The project is a partnership of many outside organizations, such as CPWR, WHO, ILO, HSE, and CCOHS, that are contributing and will provide a consistent first step towards transferring this information into workplace practices for small businesses who may be difficult to find, yet are an extremely important segment of the workforce.

Project Contact: Rick Niemeier, Ph.D.
Education and Information Division
(513) 533-8302
Project period: Continuing

Training Intervention for Pallet Makers

This ongoing study is evaluating the feasibility of providing carefully targeted informational materials to extremely small pallet makers (fewer than 20 employees) to help them improve workplace safety. The materials were developed after an evaluation of the primary hazards in pallet making and with pallet maker input. Draft materials will be evaluated to assess their usefulness in motivating small pallet makers to adopt safer work practices. Final materials will be disseminated and marketed throughout the industry with partners and through NIOSH channels.

Project contact: Robert Malkin
Education and Information Division
(513) 533-8302
Project period: Continuing

Public and Private Services Sector
Manicurists’ Exposure, Health, and Exposure Interventions

This continuing small NORA pilot project pertains to small businesses engaged in the cosmetology services industry. This study will partner with nail technician school programs to research optimal ventilation and workplace risk reduction practices, and to collect pilot data on ambient mixture exposure levels, biomarkers of internal dose, and health measures to preliminarily characterize the exposures and health of nail technicians. Expected outputs include: 1) Improvements to ventilation tables; manufacturers provided feedback on ventilation efficiency, ways to enhance it, if indicated, and other table features important for nail salon settings; 2) educational workplace exposure/risk reduction materials piloted and distributed to nail technician educators; and 3) pilot data collected and analyzed to inform the design of a possible future intervention study in nail salons.

Project contact: Susan Reutman
Division of Applied Research and Technology
(513) 533-8462
Project period: Continuing

Ergonomic Intervention in Concrete Construction

This project relates to small construction contractors engaged in concrete construction. It will develop MPs for two interventions in collaboration with industry stakeholders and disseminate the final plans to increase the adoption by individual contractors and their diffusion throughout the industry. The intermediate outcomes will be two MPs for ergonomic interventions that will be implemented in the concrete construction industry via stakeholder contacts. The MPs will be publicized using NIOSH and NIOSH/CPWR websites and construction trade publications. The long-term goal is the reduction in low back and upper extremity WMSDs among the concrete construction workforce.

Project contact: James Albers
Division of Applied Research and Technology
(513) 533-8462
Project period: Continuing

Toolbox Training in Construction

This project has focused on improving a popular training method used in the construction industry—toolbox or tailgate training. This type of training depends upon brief (15-minute) but frequent (daily or weekly) training sessions conducted by first-line supervisors. The study partnered with local construction contractors to test various approaches to toolbox training. The best approach, using true case histories, is now being applied to the development of a set of 52 toolbox lessons that will be made available through construction industry partners and on the NIOSH website.

Project contact: Carol Stephenson
Education and Information Division
(513) 533-8302
Project period: Continuing

The Center to Protect Workers' Rights (CPWR) Construction Solutions Database

Construction Solutions database, funded by NIOSH through the National Construction Center Grant #1U54OH008307, is an interactive means to find health and safety solutions in construction based on the trades. It is designed for owners, contractors, and workers. Construction Solutions is a database of information on hazards and associated practical control measures to reduce or eliminate those hazards. A collaborative effort of CPWR, Conceptual Arts, Inc, University of Iowa, and other key contributors, the database relies on resources from the electronic Library of Construction Safety and Health (eLCOSH). The database continues to grow and in the coming months will expand to include additional aspects of construction, more construction hazards, and more options for controlling those hazards. It is an interactive database, so its users are an important component: they may share experiences about what works best, comments on the effectiveness of solutions that they have implemented in the workplace, and offer solutions that are not yet listed. The purpose of the database is to build a community of construction workers, contractors, health and safety specialists, and designers who can work together to identify the best ways to prevent injury and illness in construction. The shared experiences about solutions will enable all to learn from each other's mistakes, prompting the most effective products to move more quickly into use on the job. Each hazard analysis and solution page is authored by an expert in the field and reviewed by at least two other experts.

Contacts at CPWR:
James Platner, Ph.D., CIH
(301) 578-8500

Laura Welch, MD
(301) 578-8572


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  • Page last reviewed: December 26, 2012
  • Page last updated: December 26, 2012 The U.S. Government's Official Web PortalDepartment of Health and Human Services
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