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Second Maine Occupational Safety and Health

Research Symposium

May 21-22, 2003

University of New England Portland Campus

 

Summary Report

 

Background

The Maine Occupational Research Agenda, or MORA, promotes occupational safety and health research in Maine. MORA grew out of the Maine Department of Labor’s first symposium on occupational safety and health research, held in August 2000. The event attracted local, national and international participants and presenters. Participants expressed support for the MDOL to develop a statewide occupational safety and health research agenda. As a result, MDOL created the Maine Occupational Research Agenda (MORA) and selected a committee to steer its growth.

 

The Second Maine Occupational Safety and Health Research Symposium, held May 21-22, 2003, was presented in partnership with NIOSH, Maine Department of Labor, Maine Institute for Occupational Health Education, and public and private partners. The Symposium showcased the work of MORA and provided a forum for the exchange of ideas on research into work-related injury and illness prevention and emphasized MORA’s goal to move research into practice.  The symposium theme, "Using Research to Improve Workplace Safety and Health," reflects MORA’s interest in joining academic and applied research.  Tremendous positive response to this event attests to the strong interest in both the subject and the level of exchange.

 

The diversity of presenters, presentations, and participants created a conference that was "energizing, intense, and inspiring." (John Rioux, Maine Department of Labor).

·         Regional collaboration at the MORA symposium will provide research-to-practice results that cross the Maine border and positively impact OSH practices throughout the region.” (David Valiante, NJ Dept. of Health)

·        “It was a great opportunity to describe New York's statewide network of occupational health clinics, to hopefully plant the seed for similar programs in other states, and to receive feedback from the attendees about how we might improve our clinic network.” (Matt London, NY Department of Health)

 

Following the event, Ray Sinclair from NIOSH commented:

"I think the symposium was superb too. It was thoughtfully organized and well-executed. It is so difficult to sustain interest in occupational safety and health research these days. Maine has given the nation a model for state initiatives. I hope it catches on."

           

The objectives of the Symposium were:

1.        To present current research findings.

2.        To foster collaboration among researchers from a broad range of disciplines and perspectives, and to explore underutilized disciplines and topic areas.

3.        To identify some best practices in the area of interventions.

4.        To explore the cost-effectiveness of injury prevention strategies and interventions.

5.        To showcase innovative and high technology approaches to research and prevention.

6.        To continue to promote the implementation of MORA.

7.        To provide a forum for reporting and fostering research needs identified by MORA.

 

Feedback from participants indicates that the objectives were well met.

 

Keynote presentations

·         Nancy A. Stout, Ed.D., National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, “Lighting the Way – The Role of Research in Protecting Workers.”

·        Glenn Pransky, M.D., Liberty Mutual Safety Research Institute, “How Research Leads to Change.”

 

Participants

Over 140 participants from 13 states represented a broad spectrum of occupational safety and health interests. Employers, workers, medical providers, government representatives, labor officials and academic researchers interacted to create “a great blend of groups that address occupational health.”  The diverse range of participants contributed a variety of perspectives on the issues at hand.

 

Presentations

Over 70 local, regional, and nationally recognized speakers presented the perspectives of employers, workers, medical practitioners, researchers and government.

 

Oral presentations were organized in the following topic sessions:

·         Cultural and Language Barriers to Occupational Safety & Health

·         Outreach Partnerships

·         Maine’s Occupational Health & Safety Data

·         The Impact of Safety Culture on Injury and Illness

·         Change Strategies

·         Promoting a Safe Future: Safety & Health Training in Secondary Schools

·         Issues for Agricultural Workers

·         Best Practices in Occupational Health & Safety

·         Best Practices in Occupational Medicine

·         How to Measure the Success of Safety Improvements: Intervention Effectiveness Research

·         Cost Data: What Can We Learn From It?

·         The Success of Near Miss Reporting Programs

·         Challenges in Occupational Asthma

·         Concerns for an Aging Workforce

·         Reducing Toxic Exposures at Work

·         Monitoring Occupational Fatalities

·         Back Injuries in Healthcare Settings

 

Fifteen posters presented additional data and information.

 

Exhibit

In addition to his slide talk, internationally renowned photojournalist Earl Dotter exhibited new photos on the Maine fishing industry from his collection “The Price of Fish: Risking Life and Limb in New England’s Fishing Industry”. The striking black and white photos added a “superb human worker touch” and “put a face on occupational health.” Mr. Dotter also made a slide presentation of this work.

 

Socials

A reception in the University Art Gallery and a lobster bake dinner provided “time to talk to other researchers, state and federal agency representatives” and an “opportunity to interact with others and exchange information and ideas.”  The “friendly, comfortable setting” encouraged networking.

 

Evaluative Feedback

Content:    Excellent – 84% of respondents               Good – 16% of respondents

 

Comments:

“This is the best conference I have ever attended.”

“Excellent and important conference... This should be promoted and continued at all costs.”

“The conference was very well organized and the presenters all showed a concerted effort to address the main concerns of the conference. I thoroughly enjoyed the conference and found it a very valuable experience.”

“I will be able to relate information in my teaching that is beyond the basic OSHA standards.”

“Good opportunity for professionals and others in the field to exchange information.”

“A lot of fast-paced information kept it interesting.”

"Well- organized, executed and received."

 

Suggestions for improving next conference

·         Better audiovisual equipment and assistance.

 

Research ideas

 

MORA as the first fully developed state level model for an occupational safety and health research agenda was enthusiastically encouraged.

 

Partnerships

As a result of connections made at the Symposium, partnerships are being explored between various public and private entities.  Possible projects involve toxic exposures, aging workers, and cost analysis, among others. The fruit of these collaborations will enrich the next Maine research symposium.