General Motors Corp., the United Auto Workers (UAW) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) signed a five-year agreement Monday to continue joint research on work-related health issues.
The agreement formally renews a industry-labor-government cooperative research program which began in 1995.
Since then, the partners conducted research to develop new technologies to reduce the risk of occupational safety and health injuries.
"Health and safety is an overriding priority for GM and the UAW. Working together with NIOSH, this research programs reshapes and improves the work environment for all workers," said Lawrence Burns, vice president of GM R&D and Planning. "This new knowledge has been shared with the scientific community to prevent injuries and illnesses before they occur."
NIOSH Director Linda Rosenstock said, "Even as it stimulated important research in the auto industry, the historic agreement also provided a vital foundation for the National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA), which applies the same vision of innovative, collaborative research even more widely. We look forward to further accomplishments over the next five years under the renewed agreement."
The agreement will initially focus on four new research projects:
Hearing Loss Prevention. Identify ways workers who are exposed to a noisy environment or who are hearing-impaired to perform their jobs safely and prevent additional hearing loss.
Mixed Exposure Assessment. Assess the air quality in the final assembly area where vehicles are driven off the assembly line for the first time.
Work Organizations. Examine the impact on worker performance in processing concurrent inputs from multiple information systems, such as mobile communications devices and hand-held computers.
Control Technology. Focus on developing methods for controlling emissions from new manufacturing processes.
"These four new research projects address important occupational health and safety issues and continue the productive partnership between the UAW, GM and NIOSH that has already produced a better understanding of how to improve workplace health and safety for our members," said Tom Weekley, UAW assistant director.
by Virginia Sutcliffe