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hazard signs, worker avoiding falling box

Activities: NIOSH Research Projects

The NIOSH Traumatic Injury Research Program conducts research via the public health approach, which follows a problem-solving process that begins with the identification of leading traumatic injury causes and events via surveillance; identification of risk and causal factors through investigations and analytic research; the identification and development of prevention and control strategies and technologies through engineering research; and the evaluation of strategies, programs, interventions, and technologies. The elements of this model include the following:

The following selected projects are described to provide an idea of the range of research activities involved in NIOSH traumatic occupational injury research.

Selection of Current Intramural Traumatic Injury Research Projects

Injury Surveillance

Childhood Agricultural Injury Surveillance

The project purpose, under NIOSH child agriculture injury prevention initiative, is to conduct surveillance of childhood agricultural injuries. NIOSH is collecting childhood agricultural injury data through two approaches: farm operator surveys conducted in collaboration with the National Agricultural Statistics Service and personal interviews of farm workers using the U.S. Department of Labor's National Agricultural Workers Survey. The farm operator surveys include a minority-specific component. NIOSH will also conduct periodic analyses of the Consumer Product Safety Commission's National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, the National Center for Health Statistics' Vital Statistics Mortality data, death certificates from State vital statistics registrars, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries. This project provides important information for prioritizing research and intervention programs needed to reduce childhood agricultural injuries in the future.

Project contact: John Myers
Division of Safety Research
(304) 285-5894
Project period: 10/01/1996–09/30/2017

National Surveillance of Nonfatal Occupational Injuries Using the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System

This project collects nationally representative, nonfatal occupational injury surveillance data by using a sample of U.S. hospital emergency departments through the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System—Occupational Supplement (NEISS-Work), which is conducted collaboratively with the Consumer Product Safety Commission. NEISS-Work collects demographics of the injured worker, nature of injury characteristics, and a description of the injury event. National estimates of all occupational injuries and illnesses treated in emergency departments can be made, as well as estimates for injuries to special populations (e.g., children, women, African-Americans), injury events (e.g., falls), and types of injuries (e.g., eye injuries). Detailed telephone follow-back investigations provide additional information about injury circumstances, worker characteristics, safety precautions, and injury perceptions. The National Electronic Injury Surveillance System—Occupational Supplement is used to identify and characterize the U.S. work-related injury burden, direct research, and intervention efforts, and help establish occupational safety and health policy.

Program contact: Audrey Reichard
Division of Safety Research
(304) 285-6019
Project period: 10/01/1991– On-going

NIOSH is examining under reporting of occupational injuries and illnesses through two worker surveys. Respondents are selected from a population of workers treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments as collected through the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System—occupational supplement (NEISS-Work). One survey is assessing incentives and disincentives (barriers) to reporting work-related injuries and illnesses. The survey will also validate the accuracy of work-related case identification through NEISS-Work, explore under count issues within emergency department surveillance, and provide insight into worker reporting of injuries to employer and workers’ compensation programs. The second worker interview survey focuses on identifying the employment status, prior injury/illness experience, and injury/illness reporting practices of ED-treated workers with an emphasis on non-governmental workers who are self-employed or otherwise excluded from the Bureau of Labor Statistics employer survey. Together these surveys will provide a worker’s perspective on various under reporting issues and provide an improved understanding of NEISS-Work surveillance system benefits and limitations. Results from these interviews will be shared with federal and state partners such as the Bureau of Labor Statistics and Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists’ Occupational Health Workgroup as well as a wide variety of other stakeholders interested in a better understanding of occupational injury and illness under reporting.

Project contact: Suzanne Marsh or Audrey Reichard
Division of Safety Research
(304) 285-6009 or 285-6019
Project period: 04/30/2009 – 9/30/2015

Injury Causation Research

Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation Project

The purpose of the Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation Project is to identify work environments which place workers at high risk for fatal injury, identify potential risk factors, and formulate and disseminate prevention strategies to those who can intervene in the workplace. Investigation findings and prevention recommendations are incorporated into health communication documents for broad dissemination and are used by employers to increase worker safety, by manufacturers to modify machinery and equipment to increase worker safety, and by OSHA and other organizations in the promulgation of safety standards and compliance directives.

Project contact: Nancy Romano
Division of Safety Research
(304) 285-5889
Project period: 10/01/1983–09/30/2017

Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program

In FY1998, Congress recognized the need for further efforts to address the continuing problem of occupational fire fighter fatalities, and funded NIOSH to conduct investigations of line-of-duty fire fighter traumatic deaths in order to make recommendations for preventing occupational deaths and serious injuries among the nation's 1.1 million fire fighters. Narrative reports with recommendations for preventing future similar deaths and summary documents for specific hazards and topics (e.g., structural collapse, diver training) are broadly distributed by posting on the NIOSH Web site, reprinting in trade journals, and mailings to the 35,000 fire departments around the nation.

Project contact: Tim Merinar
Division of Safety Research
(304) 285-5894
Project period: 11/01/1997–09/30/2017

Prevention and Control

Machine Guarding in Small to Medium Enterprises

NIOSH is working collaboratively with the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (OBWC) to reduce injuries in small to medium enterprises in the wood products manufacturing industry. This project will develop risk assessment templates based on machine safety regulations/standards and stakeholder input to guide companies to minimize risk from stationary sawing machinery. This project will: 1) conduct a descriptive analysis of nine years of workers’ compensation data to characterize injuries in Ohio’s wood products manufacturing industry with a specific emphasis on stationary sawing machinery injuries in small to medium enterprises; 2) develop risk assessment templates for stationary sawing machinery; 3) utilize risk assessment templates to recommend risk reduction measures in a sample of wood product manufacturing SMEs; 4) provide input to ANSI O1 Accredited Standards Committee (ASC) for Industrial Woodworking Machinery and ANSI B11 ASC on Safety Standards for Machinery based on risk assessment experience; 5) integrate stationary sawing machinery risk assessment templates into Ohio BWC training materials; and 6) develop a strategic dissemination/marketing plan for risk assessment templates for dissemination to the U.S. wood products industry.

Project contact: James Harris
Division of Safety Research
(304) 285-6120
Project period: 1/30/2012–9/30/2015

Communication/Dissemination/Technology Transfer

Utilization of Anthropometric Database to Enhance the Design of Firefighter Apparatus, Fire-engine Cabs, Seats, Restraint Systems, and Firefighter Bunker Gear

This project will establish a large-scale anthropometric database of U.S. firefighters for the design of ergonomically efficient automotive fire apparatus to help reduce the exposure of firefighters to fatal and non-fatal injuries. The database consists of anthropometric data for a sample of 951 firefighters and apparatus workspace data for 200 firefighters, who were selected to be representative of the U. S. firefighter population in terms of age, gender, and race/ethnicity. The database includes traditional anthropometric measurements, digital scans in 8 postures, and fire-truck cab workspace measurements. NIOSH is working with the fire apparatus and personal protective equipment manufacturers to assist the industry in integrating anthropometric data with the product design and commercialization process. NIOSH is also working with NFPA 1901 standards committees to integrate the anthropometric data into relevant NFPA standards regarding the design of fire apparatus, fire-engine cabs, seats, restraint systems, egress, and firefighter bunker gear. The objective of this study is to utilize the anthropometric database to enhance the design of new apparatus and PPE systems to better accommodate national firefighter populations, and thus enhance the ability of firefighters to select, fit, and use fire apparatus and PPE safely.

Project contact: Hongwei Hsiao
Division of Safety Research
(304) 285-5910
Project period: 10/1/2008–9/30/2015


Ambulance Crash Survivability Improvement Project

NIOSH has formed strong partnerships to conduct collaborative research to reduce the risk of vehicle crash-related injuries and fatalities to Emergency Medical Service (EMS) workers in ambulance patient compartments by increasing user acceptance of mobile occupant restraints tested by NIOSH’s Division of Safety Research; improving the layout of the patient compartment; and improving the overall structural integrity of the patient compartment and equipment mounting hardware. The project is expected to provide interventions to improve ambulance crash-worthiness and crash survivability for EMS workers, including fire fighters who frequently provide emergency care in ambulances. NIOSH research data will be used to provide input into the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) 1917 Automotive Ambulance Standard. Further, NIOSH is working directly with the Ambulance Manufacturers Division of the National Truck Equipment Association, which represents the builders of over 90% of the ambulances built in North America, to expand the patient compartment consensus safety standards promulgated by the Association.

Project contact: James Green
Division of Safety Research
(304) 285-5857
Project period: 04/01/2004-9/30/2015

Evaluation of Slip, Trip and Fall (STF) Prevention Practices in Food Services

Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data indicates that STFs (includes same-level falls, falls from and elevation, and slips and trips without a fall) account for the greatest percentage of total lost workday injuries in Food Services and Drinking Places, with an average incidence rate of 29.9 per 10,000 workers. The purpose of this project is to evaluate the injury prevention effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of slip, trip, and fall prevention practices (with a focus on slip-resistant shoes provided to employees for use at work) in the food services industry. Additionally, this research will identify risk factors and provide details on the circumstances, location, and patterns of injuries to food service employees, to be used in the formulation of prevention efforts. The results of this research will be disseminated through peer-reviewed journals and presentations and to decision makers in the food services industry, industry associations, unions, and employees in user-friendly fact sheets, newsletters, checklists so that results can be put into practice. By demonstrating the effectiveness of a comprehensive STF prevention, this project aims to provide evidence to help decision makers justify replicating these types of programs.

Project contact: Jennifer Bell
Division of Safety Research
(304) 285-5802
Project period: 10/01/2009-09/30/2013

Workplace Violence Prevention Programs in Health Care

Healthcare workers are nearly five times more likely to be victims of workplace violence than workers in all industries combined. Although six states have enacted laws to reduce violence against healthcare workers by requiring workplace violence prevention programs, little is known about the effectiveness of these laws. The objective of this study is two-fold: (1) to examine healthcare facility compliance with the New Jersey (NJ) Violence Prevention in Health Care Facilities Act, and (2) to evaluate the effectiveness of the regulations in this Act in reducing assault injuries to workers. This project will evaluate the impact of the legislation by estimating changes in the incidence rate of employee violence before and after enactment of the New Jersey regulations. The findings of this research will be used to inform future regulations to reduce violence against healthcare workers.

Project Contact: Marilyn Ridenour
Division of Safety Research
(304) 285-5879
Project period: 10/1/2011 – 9/30/2015