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WORK ORGANIZATION AND STRESS-RELATED DISORDERS

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Outputs: Research to Practice

Historically, NIOSH has been a leader in applying research to workplace solutions that reduce injury and illness. Research to Practice (r2p) is a NIOSH initiative focused on the transfer and translation of research findings, technologies, and information into highly effective prevention practices and products that are adopted in the workplace.

The goal of r2p is to increase workplace application of NIOSH and NIOSH-funded research findings. NIOSH continues to work with our partners to develop effective products, translate research findings into practice, disseminate knowledge, and evaluate the effectiveness of these efforts in improving worker safety and health. Examples of r2p successes in the Work Organization and Stress-Related Disorders Cross-Sector Program include the following:


NIOSH research leads to improved work schedules in computer-intensive work

NIOSH conducted a series of intramural laboratory studies to design and test new rest break schedules to reduce musculoskeletal and other problems common to office workers, and then entered into collaboration with The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the National Treasury Employees Union to evaluate these schedules in actual workplaces. Studies were conducted at three IRS data processing centers to evaluate and field test these schedules. At all three centers, the new schedules produced significant reductions in musculoskeletal discomfort, fatigue, and eyestrain without any impairment of performance. As a result of these positive findings, the new schedules were implemented by the IRS for approximately 1,000 workers.


NIOSH funded research is instrumental in standards to reduce hazardous work spells among medical residents

Three studies conducted at Harvard University and co-funded by NIOSH examined the impact of long and extended work hours on medical interns' clinical performance and risk for car crashes. The findings were included in the rationale for standards setting by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), which instituted standards in 2003 that limit duty hours for resident physicians in all accredited programs. ACGME accredits more than 8,000 programs that provide for the education of 100,000 residents and enforces resident duty hour limits. Two years after the establishment of the ACGME duty hour standards, the vast majority of residency programs are complying with these standards according to a confidential internet survey.


NIOSH research on work organization and standard (universal) precautions is applied in health care to improve safe work behaviors

In a series of studies, NIOSH partnered with the Johns Hopkins University to assess work organization factors associated with worker compliance with standard precautions, and then entered into cooperative agreements to develop and test work organization interventions to improve worker compliance with standard precautions to reduce exposure to HIV/AIDS. One intervention, involving worker feedback on safe work practices, was associated with fewer needlestick injuries, fewer exposures to blood and body fluids and a higher frequency of using gloves when performing invasive procedures. In another intervention, the creation of total quality improvement (TQI) teams resulted in a 37% decline in needlestick injuries after the intervention. These NIOSH-sponsored work organization HIV/AIDS exposure studies have inspired additional intervention activities. Questions from the NIOSH studies were used in surveys of Costa Rican health care facilities, and the results used to train 3,731 workers from 14 hospitals and 19 clinics on the importance of work organization factors for improving safety and health in health care settings.

Sources:
Compliance with universal precautions among health care workers at three regional hospitals
Am J Infect Control 1995 Aug;23(4):225-236

The impact of multifocused interventions on sharps injury rates at an acute-care hospital<br />Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol 1999 Dec; 20(12):806-811

Extended work shifts and the risk of motor vehicle crashes among interns
N Engl J Med 2005; 352:125-134

A field study of supplementary rest breaks for data-entry operators
Ergonomics 2000; 43, 622-638

 

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