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Maine Occupational Research Agenda (MORA)
Steering Committee Meeting

Bureau of Labor Standards

Third Floor Conference Room


May 8, 2002

Staff present:  
Terry Hathaway, Lynne Lamstein, & John Rioux.

Members Present:  Brad Brown (Bureau of Insurance), Peter Doran (MIOHE), Ruth Lawson-Stopps (Occupational Health Associates), Jonathan Lepoff, Kim Lim (Maine Bureau of Labor Standards), Steve Minkowsky (Maine Workers Compensation Board), Ivan Most (Strategic Occupational Health), Jonathan Torres (Workmed).& Leslie Walleigh (Workplace Health).

Members Absent: 
Dan Cote (MEMIC), Peter Crockett (MLGH),), Denise Dumont (U.S. HealthWorks), Ron Dyer (DEP), Brenda Joly (Maine Center for Public Health), Peggy Parsons (Maine Cancer Registry), & Andy Smith (Bureau of Health.



Dr. Doran opened the meeting at 9:10 A.M. He circulated a thank you card from Peter Snell (Peter’s dad recently passed away unexpectedly).


NCCI/WCRI - Data Sets to Help Identify Maine Research Priorities - Brad.  Brad informed the Steering Committee that WCRI (Workers’ Compensation Reform Initiative) is not available as a source. Brad also stated that NCCI (National Council on Compensation Insurance) had detailed claims, which could not be used at this point in time.


Setting a Research Agenda - Selecting Priorities and Drafting an Action Plan - Ruth.   Ruth stated that after approximately a year and a half, the MORA Steering Committee is ready to propose recommendations for the research agenda.  Lynne categorized the priorities the Steering Committee came up with at our last meeting, using the NORA Priority Research Areas (see attachment to be with hard copy of the Minutes).  The Steering Committee reviewed and discussed the items.


Using a nominal group process, the Steering Committee voted and came up with six (6) Research Priorities: 


Occupational Asthma

Cost Drivers


Toxic Exposure




Also, Ruth prepared criteria for an action plan.  The Steering Committee completed a cursory analysis of four out of the six priorities (see attached), using the following action plan criteria:

            What do we want to know?  (Outcomes)

            Who could do this research?

            Funding possibilities.


            What else do we need to consider?


Members of the Steering Committee will be working on the Action Plan for each Research Priority as follows:


            Occupational Asthma           -            Jon Torres & Peter Doran

            Cost Drivers                                                            Jonathan Lepoff & Steve Minkowsky

            MSD                                                               Ivan Most & Denise Dumont

            Toxic Exposures                  Leslie Walleigh, Ron Dyer, Peg Parsons, &

                                                            Andy Smith

            Fatalities                                                        Kim Lim & John Rioux

            Aging                                                              Ruth Lawson-Stopps & Lynne Lamstein



Ruth passed out a MORA Agenda, Research, & Process Guide (to be attached to the hard copy of the Minutes).


Ivan suggested that the proposed MORA Research Priorities be posted on the website and notification sent to the MORA Full Group. A MORA Full-Group meeting will be planned for September.


Workers’ Compensation Reform Overview - Steve.  Steve explained the “Kotch” decision handed down by the Maine State Supreme Court.  The composition of the Workers’ Compensation Board needs to be investigated in the next legislative session as that was not resolved.  Workers’ Compensation had a shortfall of $1.4 million; got the money to cover it the last day of the session. Due to restructuring the MAE Program, Workers’ Compensation will be able to fill a Management Analyst II position as well as the creation of two Management Analyst I positions.


Legislative Update - Ruth.  MORA will be able to submit legislation next year as there will be a new Governor and a new Legislature.


Conference 2003 - Funding & Planning Update - Ivan. As of yet, no answer from the Commission on Safety and Health in the Maine Workplace.  We may not hear from NIOSH, until September 30th.  Will be able to go ahead and plan the Conference with limited funding.  We have a contract with UNE (University of New England) for $6,000; we are planning on 150 attendees. We can invite a group of New England states that are interested in the topic and incur their Conference Expenses of $5,000.  Also, MIOHE has some money and they have been approached about co-sponsoring Conference 2003.  The Conference will be one and a half days at the University of New England (UNE), Westbrook Campus.  The current dates are May 15th and 16th (Thursday and Friday), but may need to change to June to get the New England states and their presenters.  Ivan will check with Leslie, the conference planner at UNE.  Dr. Steve Shannon, Medical Dean of UNE, is willing to front the money.  Kim spoke with Bill Peabody, Bureau of Labor Standards, and BLS will be able to use their resources for printing brochures using Lynne as the contact.  If both NIOSH and MIOHE come through, MORA will be able to pay for all presenters and maintain a running account for Conference 2006.


The theme of Conference 2003 is How Does Research Drive Policy?  There will be a keynote speaker, hopefully nationally known.  The first morning session is Best Practices - Discussion of IEE (Intervention Evaluation Effectiveness).  At lunch, there will be a speaker.  The afternoon session will be How to Use IEE and Advanced Level of IEE. The evening session may be a reception hosted by Earle Dotter, renowned occupational health and safety photo-journalist.  The second morning will be the New England Group Presentations and Research Sessions to end at lunch. Call for Presentations to go out at the end of next month.  Ivan requested help from the Steering Committee to work on the Conference. 


The Steering Committee is in agreement with the plan.  Ivan suggested that if funding doesn’t come through, we would need to go for sponsorships, which would mean developing the guidelines.


New Steering Committee Members - Dr. David Kern and Dr. John Barry.  The Steering Committee agreed that Peter Doran will invite both Dr. Kern and Dr. Barry to join the Steering Committee


Other.   Dr. Doran suggested that the Steering Committee explore a merger with MIOHE in which mutual goals could be enhanced since MIOHE is a 501C3 agency and could add a research arm to their education mission. Further exploration was supported.


Meeting adjourned at noon by Peter Doran.


Next Meeting.  The next meeting of the MORA Steering Committee will be Wednesday, June 12th, from 9:00 AM to Noon at the Bureau of Labor Standards in the Third Floor Conference Room.


Respectfully Submitted,




Terry M. Hathaway


Occupational Asthma



What do we want to know?  (Outcomes)


·      What is occupational asthma?

·     Of asthma reported, what percentage is occupational?

·      What is causing it?

·      What are the exposures in Maine?

·     Is there a relationship to Toxic Exposures?

·      How much of the occupational asthma is being compensated as workers’ compensation?

·      Educate physicians to recognize occupational asthma.

·      What is the relationship between asthma and lobsters?



Who could do this research?


·            Asthma Council - Muskie Institute

·     Lung Association

·     Bureau of Health

·            Harvard School of Public Health

·     MMC - Research Institute

·            Jackson Labs - mice


Funding possibilities.


·            Jackson Labs

·     Lung Association




·     2-5 Years


What else do we need to consider?


·     Look at Mass. Dept of Health “Sensor” (funded by NIOSH) to look at occupational asthma

·     Are cases falling through the cracks because it is not compensable - look to Maine Bureau of Health

Cost Drivers




What do we want to know?  (Outcomes)


·      Characteristics of injuries responsible for/associated with 90% of expense

·      Injury types (Industry, Body Type, Permanent, Partial, Medical Only)

·      What interventions would be most successful - IEE (Intervention Evaluation Effectiveness)

·      Reference - Oxenburg



Who could do this research?


·     WCRI

·     Bureau of Insurance

·            Workers’ Compensation

·     Peter Snell

·     Bill Newkirk

·     NCCI


Funding possibilities.


·     ? Insurance companies





·     Next 6 months


What else do we need to consider?


·            Business practices that lead to these costs

·            Proposed legislation

·     ? Policies/laws that promote the problem






What do we want to know?  (Outcomes)


·     Direct effect of work organization to MSDfor/associated with 90% of expense

·     Look at OSHA MSD plan - ? components that lead to research

·     ? Effectiveness of interventions; i.e., job rotation, stretch breaks,

·     C N A back injury

·            Surgical outcomes? Carpal tunnel


Who could do this research?


·     Nurses Association

·     Maine Medical Association Foundation

·     MEMIC

·     U Mass - Lowell


Funding possibilities.


·     OSHA





·     ~1  year


What else do we need to consider?


·     Does back school work?

Toxic Exposure




What do we want to know?  (Outcomes)


·            Identifies toxic exposures

·            Compares OSHA + DEP + ? chemical user/violators - Bureau of Health “heavy metals”

·     Look at Toxic Substances Inventory for State of Maine

·     Toxic Use Reduction i.e., Mercury & industry specific does it make a difference (Smart Production)

·            Education documents

·     What is multi-chemical sensitivity?

·     Indoor air quality



Who could do this research?


·     U Mass - Lowell - Relationships between Toxics and Occupational Health

·     Bureau of Health - Toxicology

·     Bureau of Labor Standards

·            Department of Environmental Protection

·     Lowell Toxic Use Reduction Institute


Funding possibilities.


·     EPA

·     OSHA

·     CDC

o     NIOSH

o  Rutgers National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences






·     Long time


What else do we need to consider?


·     Any tie to the Cancer Registry?