Projects funded

Projects funded

The following research projects were funded by the OHS Futures program.

Show Answer 2016

  1. Metabolomics of welding fume exposure: a novel biomarker approach for monitoring health in welders, Dr. Paige Lacy, University of Alberta

    Exposure of welders to welding fumes is a recognized occupational hazard, particularly in enclosed spaces or areas that are poorly ventilated. Some welders develop respiratory problems that may progress into serious disease conditions. At present there are no monitoring strategies for evaluating the exposure of welders to toxic levels of welding fumes. Dr. Lacy’s proposed research aims to generate a new approach to monitoring the exposure of welders to toxic welding fumes. This approach uses a new technique called metabolomics, where metabolites can be identified in urine samples of welders. Metabolomics provides a “snapshot” of the health profile of welders and can generate biomarkers that indicate a potential disease.

  2. Epidemiology of non-reported work-related injuries among Licensed Practical Nurses in Alberta, Dr. Don Voaklander, University of Alberta
     
    In Alberta, a large number of work-related injuries in nurses contribute to a significant economic and human burden. Even though this issue is known, it is estimated that the official reports of work-related injuries in licensed practical nurses (LPNs) greatly underestimate the actual size of this problem. The epidemiology of non-reported work-related injuries among LPNs in Alberta is a poorly researched topic. This research aims to first estimate the number of non-reported work-related injuries among LPNs. Secondly, the project aims to explore the reasons for non-reporting of work-related injuries. By identifying reasons associated with failure to report, the information may inform interventions directed at tackling this problem. Finally, results from this study could be used to encourage LPNs to file injury claims right away to reduce the burden of work-related injuries and the risk of re-injury.
  3. Developing Performance Indicators for Alberta’s Internal Responsibility System, Dr. Bob Barnetson, Athabasca University

    This project aims to design and benchmark metrics that assess workers’ experience with the operation of Alberta’s internal responsibility system (IRS) in order to quantify changes in injury prevention behaviours. The IRS represents the first-line of defense against workplace injuries, in which workers and employers cooperate to recognize, assess, and control hazards. Worker participation in the IRS is enabled through the three safety rights they are granted by the Occupational Health and Safety Act: the rights to (1) know about hazards in their workplace, (2) participate in hazard identification and control, and (3) refuse unsafe work.

  4. Immigrant employees’ perspectives on occupational safety, work conditions and return-to-work experiences after occupational injury or illness, Dr. Janki Shankar, University of Calgary

    Immigrant workers make up a significant proportion of the Canadian workforce; unfortunately for many of them, their labour market experience is not a positive one. Many recent immigrants (those in Canada for less than 10 years), especially linguistic and visible minorities, are over-represented in jobs and workplaces that are hazardous to their safety and well-being. These workers experience more barriers when returning to work after an occupational injury/illness, compared to Canadian-born workers in similar positions. To improve occupational safety, workplace integration post-injury and prevention of occupational injuries/illness for these workers this study will (a) examine their perspectives on occupational health and safety, workplace conditions leading to injury/illness, employer attitudes towards their injury, and the socioeconomic and cultural factors that shape their perspectives and experiences and (b) identify strategies, approaches and potential interventions informed by their needs and preferences. In-depth interviews with immigrant employees will be done to explore the above issues.

  5. Effectiveness of Random Drug and Alcohol Screening as an Intervention for Occupational Injury Prevention, AB, Dr. Sebastian Straube, University of Alberta

    The use of alcohol and other drugs represents a significant and growing problem in the workforce, with 5%–20% of workers at risk of addiction. The profile of substance use is changing in Alberta, especially as it pertains to analgesics (narcotics, opioids), in particular fentanyl, and the dramatic increase in the numbers of authorizations for medical marijuana. It is probable that occupational risk will occur following the consumption of substances at work, or within close temporal proximity of work. To date, the exploration of the link between the use of alcohol or other drugs (AOD) and measures to improve workplace injury prevention has been insufficient. Random AOD testing, despite the observed expansion, has not been adequately evaluated. More research to evaluate the effectiveness of random workplace drug testing is therefore urgently needed. Dr. Straube and his team will conduct a systematic review of the world literature on this topic. This will inform policy and practice as it relates to the adoption of workplace random AOD testing. As part of an overall drug-free workplace policy, this may contribute to increased safety in Alberta workplaces in the face of a changing substance use profile in Alberta and Canada.

  6. Is COR associated with lower firm-level injury rates? An evaluation of the effect of an audit-based occupational health and safety recognition program on firm work-injury rates in Alberta, Canada, Dr. Christopher McLeod, University of British Columbia

    Partnerships in Injury Reduction is a voluntary program that awards Certificates of Recognition (COR) to employers that have developed an occupational health and safety (OHS) management system and met established standards. Although the program has been in effect in Alberta since the 1990s, there have been no evaluations of the effect of COR certification on firm-level injury rates. A recent study conducted in British Columbia (BC) showed that firms achieving OHS COR, had, on average, a 12% lower short-term, long-term and fatality injury rate compared to a control group of non-COR firms. The current study proposes to build on the research conducted in BC by assessing the effect of COR injury certification on firm-level injury rates in Alberta. A year- and trend-specific analysis will be performed to assess the impact of COR certification across time and industrial sectors. The projects’ findings will not only provide Alberta-specific evidence on the impact of COR certification on firm-level injury rates, but it will also contribute to an overall understanding of the effectiveness of OHS management certification programs.

  7. Evaluating a Respirable Crystalline Silica Risk Assessment Model for the Construction Industry in Alberta, Dr. Melanie Gorman Ng, University of British Columbia

    Respirable crystalline silica (RCS) is among the most common occupational carcinogens. A predictive model has been developed for estimating RCS exposure in construction has been tailored to the British Columbia (BC) construction industry and has not been validated against external data. This study aims to adapt the BC model for Alberta (AB) and aims to validate the model against exposure measurements from worksites. Dr. Gorman Ng and her team will compile a focus group of construction representatives to develop a list of common tasks in the AB construction industry that can cause RCS exposure. They will then conduct exposure monitoring at AB worksites for tasks that are missing from the BC model. These will be used to update the model to include AB tasks. They will also collect additional measurements on all silica exposure tasks that will be used to validate the model. Measurements taken in the field will be compared to the exposure levels predicted by the model. This project will result in a model that is validated and tailored for the AB construction industry and can be used in RCS exposure risk assessment ultimately contributing to reductions in RCS exposures for construction workers in AB.

  8. A Controlled Dose-Response Human Study to Develop a Signature of Occupational Diesel Exhaust Exposure, Dr. Chris Carlsten, University of British Columbia

    Strong scientific understanding of how emissions from diesel engines impact the lungs could improve policies and regulations protecting workers exposed to diesel exhaust. Accordingly, Dr. Carlsten and his team are recruiting healthy volunteers who are non-smokers to participate in a study. Volunteers will sit in a room for four hours and breathe either clean filtered air or air that contains pollution at levels similar to occupational settings that use diesel engines, such as railroads and mines. A lung doctor then assesses volunteer’s lung health and takes clinical samples. The research team is equipped with advanced molecular biology tools to measure different molecules and compare samples from the volunteer subjects following exposure to clean air or diesel exhaust. The research aims to find a simple, clinically relevant strategy that can be used to measure the impact of diesel exhaust on workers’ lung health. This knowledge will empower regulators, companies, and ultimately workers to better manage their health risks. This research also aims to provide specific data to help regulators to make informed decisions about the risks of diesel exhaust exposure.

  9. WHAT-ME/WHAT-MEN (Women’s Health in Apprenticeship Trades – Metal Working and Electrical / Workers’ Health in Alberta Trades – Men) (Renewal Application), Dr. Nicola Cherry, University of Alberta

    The WHAT-ME and WHAT-MEN projects recruit Canadians who have registered in apprenticeships with training in welding (welder, pipefitter, steamfitter, boilermaker), electrical trades or metal working. For women, the WHAT-ME study was established to examine the effects on women’s health and fertility, as well as the health of the fetus as it related to exposures in these trades. The WHAT-MEN project provides information on health and welding exposures in men who have undertaken registered apprenticeships in Alberta. Information from the two studies will allow for the examination of the relationship between work tasks, exposures and new onset of ill-health in men and women in the welding trades and to identify aspects of work in welding that may be hazardous to men, women and/or the unborn child.

Show Answer 2015

  1. It’s Your Move: Evaluating Improvements to Client Handling Practices in Alberta, Dr. Siegrid Deutschlander, Alberta Health Services
     
    This project evaluates the “It’s Your Move” program, an Alberta Health Services program aiming to reduce musculoskeletal disorders among healthcare workers in Alberta. 27,000 healthcare workers at over 100 long-term and acute-care facilities were trained under the program and the results must now be evaluated. Dr. Deutschlander’s research project examines the specific conditions at 10 acute care sites to better understand the barriers to and opportunities for success. In addition, Dr. Deutschlander and her team will analyze the cost benefits of the program as a whole, and develop a metrics template for future assessment of the program impacts.
  2. Flour exposure, sensitization and respiratory health among Alberta bakers, Dr. Jeremy Beach, University of Alberta
     
    This research seeks to identify the prevalence and incidence of sensitization and respiratory health effects of workplace exposures among bakery workers in Alberta. The research project aims to conduct a survey of workers to determine the prevalence of health problems related to flour and to establish a group of workers entering the industry (apprentices) who can be followed to determine the incidence of new respiratory health problems among Alberta bakers. The information collected in Dr. Beach’s research projects may assist in determining ways of minimizing the risk of work-related sensitization and adverse respiratory health effects in bakers.
  3. Occupational interventions for the prevention of back pain – overview of systematic reviews and demonstration of a knowledge-translation application, Dr. Sebastian Straube, University of Alberta
     
    Back pain is one of the most common health problems – some 80 per cent of people experience it at some point in their lives. Back pain can be caused by work or be made worse by work. Work-related back pain can result in workplace injuries, workers’ compensation claims, as well as decreased worker attendance and productivity in the workplace. Employers have a duty to assess and control the risks in the workplace, including the ergonomic risks that lead to back pain. Workplace-related interventions, such as lifting advice, lifting aids, exercises, or back schools may be of benefit in preventing back pain. Dr. Straube’s research proposes to produce an overview of systematic reviews to bring together and assess all the available evidence and derive recommendations for practice.
  4. Epidemiology of musculoskeletal injuries and their association with physical fitness among police officers in Edmonton, AB, Dr. Don Voaklander, University of Alberta
     
    Police officers commonly face situations that put them at higher risk for injury. Although musculoskeletal injuries are frequently suffered by police officers, only scarce research has documented the occurrence of this type of injuries in this population. An association between low occurrence of musculoskeletal injuries and high levels of physical fitness has been suggested in police officers; however, further analysis of this association is needed to draw conclusive results. Using administrative databases from Edmonton Police Services (EPS), the goal of this research is to expand the current knowledge of the occurrence of musculoskeletal injuries among police officers, and to explore the association between occurrence of injuries and level of physical fitness in this group. The results of this project may help identify whether physical fitness influences the occurrence of musculoskeletal injuries among police officers, and could highlight the potential benefits of training and exercise programs to prevent and/or decrease the occurrence of musculoskeletal injuries among members of the EPS.
  5. Metabolomics of welding fume exposure: a novel biomarker approach for monitoring health in welders, Dr. Paige Lacy, University of Alberta
     

    Exposure of welders to welding fumes is a recognized occupational hazard, particularly in enclosed spaces or areas that are poorly ventilated. Some welders develop respiratory problems that may progress into serious disease conditions. At present there are no monitoring strategies for evaluating the exposure of welders to toxic levels of welding fumes. Dr. Lacy’s proposed research aims to generate a new approach to monitoring the exposure of welders to toxic welding fumes. This approach uses a new technique called metabolomics, where metabolites can be determined in urine samples of welders. Metabolomics provides a “snapshot” of the health profile of welders and can generate biomarkers that indicate a potential disease. This approach could provide indications of excessive exposure to welding fumes, and potentially biomarkers of disease.
  6. WHAT-ME/WHAT-MEN (Women’s Health in Apprenticeship Trades – Metal Working and Electrical / Workers’ Health in Alberta Trades – Men) (Renewal Application), Dr. Nichola Cherry, University of Alberta
     

    The WHAT-ME and WHAT-MEN projects recruit Canadians who have registered in apprenticeships with training in welding (welder, pipefitter, steamfitter, boilermaker), electrical trades or metal working. For women, the WHAT-ME study was established to examine the effects on women’s health and fertility, as well as the health of the fetus as it related to exposures in these trades. The WHAT-MEN project provides information on health and welding exposures in men who have undertaken registered apprenticeships in Alberta. Information from the two studies will allow for the examination of the relationship between work tasks, exposures and new onset of ill-health in men and women in the welding trades and to identify aspects of work in welding that may be hazardous to men, women and/or the unborn child.

Show Answer 2014

  1. Healthy workplaces for helping professions: a framework for addressing psychosocial hazards for child and family service workers, Dr. Thomas Barker, University of Alberta

    This research addresses work-related psychosocial hazards in the child and family services sector in Alberta. The project undertakes the initiative to gather knowledge about psychological hazards and control measures, to disseminate that knowledge to the agencies and, most importantly, to measure the effectiveness of the initiative.

  2. Flour exposure, sensitization and respiratory health among Alberta bakers, Dr. Jeremy Beach, University of Alberta

    This research seeks to identify the prevalence and incidence of sensitization and respiratory health effects of workplace exposures among bakery workers in Alberta. The proposal aims to conduct a systematic review of the current literature, conduct a survey of workers to determine the prevalence of health problems related to flour and to establish a group of workers entering the industry who can be followed to determine the incidence of new respiratory health problems among Alberta bakers.

  3. Occupational injuries in inter-provincial workers in Alberta: a feasibility study with focus on Newfoundland, Dr. Nicola Cherry, University of Alberta

    Alberta has a shortage of skilled workers and, as such, many workers from other provinces come to Alberta to work. This feasibility study will explore whether existing databases might be used to estimate injury rate for Canadian residents with and without permanent residence in Alberta, supplemented by data on work patterns and job demands of those coming to Alberta to work. The proposal will test the feasibility of establishing a cohort of workers, both from in-province and from Newfoundland, who are currently working in the Fort McMurray/Wood Buffalo region.

  4. Metabolomics of welding fume exposure: a novel biomarker approach for monitoring health in welding apprentices, Dr. Paige Lacy, University of Alberta

    Exposure of welders to welding fumes is a recognized occupational hazard. At present, there are no monitoring strategies for evaluating the exposure of welders to toxic levels of welding fumes. This research proposal aims to generate a new approach to monitoring the exposure of welders to toxic welding fumes, and the approach involves the use of a new technique called metabolomics where metabolites can be determined in urine samples of welders.

  5. A qualitative study of reflection-based safety literacy education, Ms. Jodi Howick, NAIT

    It is recognized that there is a growing need for Alberta workers to have the skills to work safely in a wide variety of hazardous environments. To address this gap, NAIT has recently developed a safety literacy course to provide the foundational tools to support new employees. The purpose of this project is to understand the student experience of reflection-based safety literacy education both in the classroom and on the worksite.

  6. Workplace violence in Alberta child welfare, Dr. David Nicholas, University of Calgary

    Existing research reports high prevalence rates of workplace violence experienced by child welfare workers. This study will collect data from various employees within the child welfare sector to identify key factors that determine workplace violence, identify key factors that influence the prevalence of workplace violence and employees’ decisions to leave or remain in the field, and identify responses from employers that can protect the occupational health and safety of employees.

  7. Development and validation of a proactive ergonomic intervention targeting Alberta’s rural and urban childcare operators and workers, Dr. John Doan, University of Lethbridge

    The primary purpose of the project is to combine expert field ergonomic risk evaluation with a thorough review of the current literature to identify major work-related musculoskeletal disorders and contributing factors amongst rural and urban childcare workers in Alberta. Another purpose is to prepare, deliver and assess education, exercise and nutrition program to improve and promote workplace health. The tertiary purpose is to identify a viable final package and dissemination strategy for the program amongst rural and urban childcare workers across Alberta.

  8. Impacts of vibration reduction on back pain and fatigues in truck drivers, Dr. Philip Bigelow, University of Waterloo

    Truck driving is a very common occupation in Alberta and drivers are constantly exposed to whole-body-vibration transmitted via the tractor’s seat. Drivers experience back pain as well as fatigue from vibration exposure. The study examines the impact of new anti-vibration technologies on reducing back pain, fatigue as well as driver drowsiness.

  9. WHAT-ME/WHAT-MEN (Women’s Health in Apprenticeship Trades – Metal Working and Electrical / Workers’ Health in Alberta Trades – Men) (Renewal Application), Dr. Nichola Cherry, University of Alberta

    The WHAT-ME and WHAT-MEN projects recruit Canadians who have registered in apprenticeships with training in welding (welder, pipefitter, steamfitter, boilermaker), electrical trades or metal working. For women the WHAT-ME study was established to examine the effects on women’s health and that of the fetus of exposures in these trades. The WHAT-MEN project provides information on health and welding exposures in men who have undertaken registered apprenticeships in Alberta. Information from the two studies will allow for the examination of the relationship between work tasks, exposures and new onset of ill-health in men and women in the welding trades and to identify aspects of work in welding that may be hazardous to men, women or the unborn child.

Created:
Modified: 2017-11-15
PID: 15364

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