Thinkstock
bridging the knowledge gap

Leaders Discuss Bridging the Gaps in Safety Knowledge

Nov. 6, 2017
The American Society of Safety Engineers recently held a research workshop to help jumpstart the effort to improve workplace safety.

Additional scientific research and a broad sharing of existing data are needed by safety and health practitioners across the country to better protect workers in every industry, according to the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE). To that end, ASSE recently brought together dozens of industry leaders and safety experts for a research workshop aimed to create a new wave of progress.

“Workplace safety has plateaued over the past decade when you look at the numbers, so we are pursuing a collaborative and sustainable research agenda that can fill gaps in our body of knowledge and help us move the needle,” said ASSE President Jim Smith, M.S., CSP. “Putting more evidence-based data into the hands of safety professionals will enable them to better design and execute safety and health management programs, which keep people alive and healthy on the job.”

The interactive workshop involved more than 40 leaders from business, professional organizations, academia and government. The industries represented included insurance, construction, oil and gas, manufacturing, transportation, healthcare and technology. Through presentations and breakout sessions, attendees discussed the needs of safety and health researchers, identified gaps in existing research and explored how new research could help provide solutions in real-world business settings. The networking event also encouraged the formation of alliances to sponsor and advance evidence-based practices in a field with limited resources.

“The safety and health community is not highly involved in research, causing gaps in data and increasing the need for more focused studies,” said ASSE member and workshop presenter Joel Haight, industrial engineering professor at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering. “But the bigger problem is the dissemination of existing data. We need a mechanism that places peer-reviewed scientific research at the fingertips of safety and health professionals who can positively impact workplace safety.”

More research in the safety and health arena would also drive standards development and provide proof for the most effective workplace safety interventions. ASSE expects to distribute a report this fall that summarizes this first research workshop and announces next steps. A second research workshop is possible in the spring.

The research workshop was building on the working research agenda that was created in 2016 by ASSE and the ASSE Foundation. The three areas of focus in that document are to:

  • Validate the effectiveness of occupational safety and health management systems.
  • Demonstrate that increasing the quality of safety interventions improves workplace safety and health outcomes as well as company performance.
  • Provide employers with a better understanding of the value of integrating overall worker wellness with occupational safety and health.

“Safety and health research not only provides new information where good data is lacking, it also creates opportunities for debate and challenge that lead to new understandings of how to best reduce workplace injuries and illnesses,” Smith said. “Let's give safety practitioners the tools they need to be successful.”

About the Author

Sandy Smith

Sandy Smith is the former content director of EHS Today, and is currently the EHSQ content & community lead at Intelex Technologies Inc. She has written about occupational safety and health and environmental issues since 1990.

Sponsored Recommendations

Free Webinar: ISO 45001 – A Commitment to Occupational Health, Safety & Personal Wellness

May 30, 2024
Secure a safer and more productive workplace using proven Management Systems ISO 45001 and ISO 45003.

ISO 45003 – Psychological Health and Safety at Work

May 30, 2024
ISO 45003 offers a comprehensive framework to expand your existing occupational health and safety program, helping you mitigate psychosocial risks and promote overall employee...

DH Pace, national door and dock provider, reduces TRIR and claims with EHS solution

May 29, 2024
Find out how DH Pace moved from paper/email/excel to an EHS platform, changing their culture. They reduced TRIR from 4.8 to 1.46 and improved their ability to bid on and win contracts...

Case Study: Improve TRIR from 4+ to 1 with EHS Solution and Safety Training

May 29, 2024
Safety training and EHS solutions improve TRIR for Complete Mechanical Services, leading to increased business. Moving incidents, training, and other EHS procedures into the digital...

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of EHS Today, create an account today!