Skip Maine state header navigation

Agencies | Online Services | Help











Summary Report

of the

Special Discussion Roundtable Session

at the

Occupational Safety and Health Research Symposium

Bethel, Maine August 7 - 8, 2000

"A Research Agenda for Maine"

Should we?

Can we?

How do we start?

prepared by

Alan Hinsey

"Management Intervention Services"

submitted to

Bureau of Labor Standards

Maine Department of Labor







Summary Report of the Special Discussion Roundtable Session at the Occupational Safety and Health Research Symposium

"A Research Agenda for Maine"

Should we? Can we? How do we start?

Contents Page

  1. Introduction ................................................................................. 1
  1. The Symposium - Integrating Research and Practice
  1. A Research Agenda for Maine - the Concept, the NIOSH model
  1. Special Roundtable discussion session
  1. Summary of Roundtable Discussion Elements ............................... 3
  1. Getting to Know each Other - who are you and why are you here?
  1. Research Agenda Concept - Good Idea for Maine?
  1. How do we begin?
  1. Who are the Stakeholders?
  1. Assessment of Commitment levels
  1. Next Steps
  1. Conclusions and Recommendations ............................................. 5
  1. Pursue a Research Agenda for Maine? - a Resounding YES
  1. Forming a Steering/Advisory Committee
  1. Time frames - Next steps


      1. NORA Development and Synthesis Process
      2. Special Session Flip Chart Summaries
      3. Special Session Attendee lists
      4. Special Session "notes"
      5. Symposium - "Proceedings"










ü NORA Development and Synthesis

ü Special Session Flip Chart Summaries

ü Special Session Attendee lists

ü Special Session "notes"

ü Symposium - " Proceedings"





Summary Report of the Special Discussion Roundtable Session at the Occupational Safety and Health Research Symposium

Bethel, Maine --- August 7 - 8, 2000

"A Research Agenda for Maine"

Should we? Can we? How do we start?


  1. The Symposium - Integrating Research and Practice

The Maine Department of Labor has taken the initiative to consider the development of an Occupational Safety and Health Research Agenda for Maine based on the model put forward at the national level by NIOSH - i.e., NORA - National Occupational Research Agenda. In an effort to move that initiative forward, as well a establishing a forum for the exchange of research, concepts and ideas on occupational safety and health, the Bureau of Labor Standards, in the MDOL, conducted the first ever "Maine Occupational Safety and Health Research Symposium - Integrating Research and Practice." The event took place at the Sunday River Conference facility in Bethel Maine on August 7 - 8, 2000.

There were over 100 attendees to this first ever event in Maine - quite a success. The two days of Presentations, Poster Sessions, Roundtable Discussions and Informal Information Sharing received high marks from attendees. Mary Lynn Woebkenberg, Ph.D. and Linda Goldenhar, Ph.D., both of NIOSH, presented important and insightful keynote speeches at the symposium. See the Symposium "Proceedings" booklet in the Attachment Section of this document for more details on all topics and sessions conducted at symposium.

The 3 Objectives of the Symposium were:

1. To help MDOL begin the process of developing a Maine Occupational Safety and Health Research Agenda similar to NORA;

2. To begin the process of providing an avenue for researchers and practitioners in Maine to share and disseminate effective research strategies for promoting occupational safety and health; and

3. To facilitate the "networking" among state, regional and national researchers and practitioners in the field of Occupational Safety and Health.


By all accounts, all 3 Objectives were achieved at the Symposium.


  1. A Research Agenda for Maine - the Concept - the NIOSH model

As noted above, the MDOL is considering developing an Occupational Safety and Health Research Agenda for Maine based on the NORA model. The basic development and synthesis process used by NIOSH/NORA for the development of the NORA categories and research focus areas is shown in brief in the Attachments Section of this document.

In effect, the NORA process called together national experts from 3 broad- based Liaison Committees; Federal Agencies; NIOSH staff and NIOSH Bd. of Scientific Counselors; the Mine Health Research Committee; and the National Committee on Occ. Safety and Health.

This group had input into the final 3 Research Categories and 21 Priority Research Areas that were established as the NORA framework (see attachment for detail on the NORA 3 Categories and 21 Research Priority Areas). The idea was simply to identify the most critical research areas and establish a "systematic" approach to guide the national level research and analysis that would be done to achieve the best possible results from a nationally coordinated research process.

This is the model that Maine is considering. Two other states have begun work in this area - California and Washington. If Maine chooses to go forward with a Maine-specific version of the NORA process, it will clearly be one of the leaders in the nation in this area of coordinated research as well as data and information sharing.

  1. Special Roundtable Discussion Session

Many discussions were held at the MDOL, and specifically within the Bureau of Labor Standards Research and Statistics Unit, regarding the merit of establishing a research agenda for Maine. It was felt that the Symposium would provide the proper forum to take the possibility of establishing a statewide Reattach Agenda to the next level for discussion and input by stakeholders. To that end, a "Special Roundtable Discussion Session" was featured at the conclusion of the regular presentation schedule on Day One of the Research Symposium (August 7, 2000).

The Symposium organizers asked Alan Hinsey, former Director of the Maine Bureau of Labor Standards, to facilitate the roundtable discussion session. The session was scheduled for the conclusion of Day One - 4:30 - 6:00 - after all regular breakout sessions were finished and just prior to dinner. Originally, the Symposium organizers hoped to attract maybe 10 key players in Maine to sit in on the roundtable discussions on the topic of a Research Agenda for Maine. However, much to their surprise (and delight), over 50 people attended the roundtable discussion session.

It is safe to say that there was (and is) considerable interest in the idea of creating an Occupational Safety and Health Research Agenda for Maine. The following sections of this document report on the discussions that were held during that special roundtable session.


Summary of Roundtable Discussion Elements

  1. Getting to Know Each Other - who are you and why are you here?

As noted earlier, over 50 people attended the session. See the Attendance List and Flip Chart #1 for a listing of all persons attending and organizations represented.

Interest was high regarding the concept of a Research Agenda, as well as the ability to effectively share research information. The attendees at the special session ranged from State and Federal Officials, to Occupational Health Specialist, to Private Companies (manufacturing and retailing), to Public Health Officials, to Specific Public Health Associations (Cancer Assoc, Lung Assoc, etc..), to Practitioners - Mds, PTs, Occ Health Nurses, to Officials from the Workersí Comp Board, to Safety Professionals , to Environmental experts.

A diverse group of interested parties - both broad and deep.

There was keen interest in the idea of a Research Agenda for Maine - but also equal interest in the need to effectively share data. The need to protect and ensure the integrity of the data and information used by researchers and practitioners was also expressed.

Because of the large audience - a considerable amount of time was spent allowing each group and each individual to identify themselves and to express their particular interest in this "concept." This was the first time that many of these diverse groups had come together on one issue - so it was important to give them time to "get to know each other."

  1. Research Agenda Concept - Good Idea for Maine?

Many of the initial presentations at the Symposium dealt with the NORA model - in fact the Keynote speaker for the opening of the symposium was Mary Lynn Woebkenberg, Ph.D. of NIOSH, who discussed the creation and implementation of NORA.

With those earlier presentations as a backdrop, we were able to jump right into the discussion of the "concept" - i.e., a discuss of the applicability of developing a "NORA-like" process to guide the Occupational Safety and Health research efforts in Maine.

A wide ranging discussion occurred - see the items recorded on Flip Chart #2 in the attachments to this document.

A clear consensus emerged (observable even within this large group) in support of the concept of a Research Agenda for Maine. There was much discussion about how research priorities would be set, the need for a Steering Committee, the need for stakeholder buy in, funding, etc. - but the final consensus in favor of moving forward toward the establishment of a Research Agenda for Maine was clear.

In addition, it was also clear that the group placed a strong emphasis on the need for the development of a comprehensive "system" or "network" for the effective sharing of data and research findings in Maine.

  1. How do we begin?

With a consensus established in support of the concept of a Research Agenda for Maine, the discussion shifted to the topic of how to begin. See Flip Chart #3 in the attachments for the detail on this discussion. Several key points emerged out of this discussion:

- Need to form an Advisory Board or Steering Committee for the process

- Need clear statement of purpose - up front

- Need to affiliate this initiative with Public Health initiatives and Public Health Schools

- Needs to be tied in closely with the Maine University system

- Need to coordinate with NIOSH & consider using NORA areas - BUT the Maine Research Agenda must be Maine-Specific

It was also the sense of the group that the natural "leadership" for this effort should reside with the MDOL Bureau of Labor Standards (BLS). The BLS Research Unit is viewed by these stakeholders as a credible, fair, objective group of professionals who could add significant value to this process while shepherding the resources needed to effectively move the initiative forward.

  1. Who are the Stakeholders?

In the process of discussing how to begin, it was emphasized that "stakeholder buy in" and a clear understanding of the frame of reference of all stakeholders would be important to the ultimate success of a Maine Research Agenda. To that end, the group took some time to identify the "stakeholders." See Flip Chart # 4 for a listing of Stakeholders identified.

It is interesting to note that beyond the expected list of stakeholders such as researchers, government officials, occ safety and healthy practitioners, etc., the group felt that other "nontraditional" stakeholders should be considered when developing a Research Agenda for Mane - such as:

- Economic Development Groups

- Business Associations

- Social Change Advocates

- Workersí Families

  1. Assessment of Commitment levels

The group also spent a few minutes discussing commitment levels - i.e., what level of commitment is needed to succeed, and how would we assess that level of commitment once we began the process of developing a Research Agenda for Maine. This was difficult subject area for the group to get its hands around - and as such the discussion wandered off topic a bit at that point (see Flip Chart # 5 in the Attachments). However, it was clear that the group felt that for this effort to be successful there must be a strong level of commitment ( endorsement in words and funding) from Government (the Governorís Office, State Agencies, Federal Govít - NIOSH, etc.). It was also felt that the private sector - business and insurance community - must demonstrate a strong level of support for the goals of the project. Finally, it was stressed again at this point in the discussions that the " Advisory Committee" must be "hands on, active, and very involved in the development process."

  1. Next Steps

See Flip Chart # 6 in the Attachments for a detailed listing of the Next Steps discussion. The focus of this portion of the discussion was on the need to identify and recruit the "Advisory Committee" as the most important "next step." It was further emphasized that the BLS should continue in the leadership capacity and administrative support role for this project.

The group spent considerable time identifying the key "traits" that would make up a good Advisory Committee member - it was also suggested that BLS consider the Maine Science and Technology Association structure as a model for the development of the Ad hoc Advisory Committee needed for the Occ Safety and Health Research Agenda project.


Conclusions and Recommendations

  1. Pursue a Research Agenda for Maine? - a Resounding YES

First and foremost, it was clear that the group (virtually all 50 of them) supported the concept of establishing a Research Agenda for Maine. There was significant buy-in from the major stakeholders present and a demonstrated willingness to "actively" work with the leadership at MDOL/BLS to begin the process of moving this initiative forward.

Once again, it was stressed that beyond a Research Agenda, that would be used to guide the occupational safety and health research efforts of Maine in a more coordinated fashion, there was also a strong desire my the assemble researchers and practitioners for the creation of an effective and accessible "system" or "network" for the ongoing sharing of research data and findings throughout Maine.

  1. Forming a Steering/Advisory Committee

As noted above, the group felt a strong need for an Advisory Board or Steering Committee. It was the clear recommendation of the group that BLS begin the process of identifying possible Steering Committee members and set up the organizational structure needed to call this advisory group together to begin the development process.

See Flip Chart # 6 for more detail on the desired "characteristics" of a Steering Committee member.

  1. Time frames

The group discussed the need to move ahead "cautiously but deliberately" on this project. There was clearly a feeling of energy and momentum around the subject of establishing a "Research Agenda" for Maine. The group felt that BLS should take the lead and continue the work on the development initiative as soon as possible. A firm connection to NIOSH was suggested based on a desire to capitalize on the interest that NIOSH was showing in Maineís efforts now ("strike while the iron is hot"). The group also expressed an interest in the fact that only 2 other states are working in this area at this time - this presents a national leadership opportunity that the Occupational Safety and Health and Public Health Communities of Maine may wish to embrace.

  1. Next steps

The following "themes" regarding next steps to be taken emerged out of the discussions at the Special Roundtable Session:

- BLS should continue in the Leadership role

- Act now - "cautiously but deliberately"

- BLS should maintain a close relationship with NIOSH (support, expertise, funding, etc.)

- BLS should confirm support for the project (Public Sector, Private Sector, NIOSH, etc.)

- Form the Advisory Board now

- Let the collective wisdom and experience of the experts on the Advisory Board establish the plan and pace for the project

- First job of the Advisory Bd/Steering Committee should be to develop a clear "Statement of Purpose " for the Research Agenda project as well as a "charter" that will guide the Ad Hoc group activity (including, guidelines for determining when the groupís work is finished)














Flip Chart #1: Who Are You and Why are You Here?:

- Public Health Educators - NIOSH - Insurers


- Researchers - Statisticians - Occ Health Nurse


- Cancer Assoc - Bur of Health - Occ Disease Unit


- Tech College System - Pub Health Planning - "Turning Point"


- Portland Welding Supply - Retail - Marden - New Balance


- LL Bean - Occ Health Consulting - Lung Assoc


- Me Pub Health Assoc - Me Inst. for Occ Health - Occ Health Mds


- H/S Director - State Govít - Public School System - WC Bd


- Me Safety Council - Traffic safety school - HR Directors


- Non Profit Orgs - Environmental Orgs - MHIC




- DOC - Unions - Me Labor Group


- Phy Therapists - Me Muni Assoc - Construction Co.


Flip Chart #2: "Research Agenda"- Good Idea for Maine?:




- Improves Reporting for ALL systems - Draws attention to issues/problems


- Donít Reinvent wheel - NIOSH Model - Occ Stress data needs to be shared


- more "applied" research needed - Effect of Phy Fitness on Occ Injuries


- # needed on "consequences" Occ Inj ($$) - need data for Biz & Social Respon.


- need more directed research - lost opportunities if data not shared


- good data resources in Maine - not keeping current with workforce


- need to understand Maine workforce - missing data from non-reporting


- some data not covered - need info on Aging pop. in Maine


- need info on Rural nature of state - Occ Cancer info (80,000 at risk)


- need better research on how to influence employers




Flip Chart #3: How Do We Begin?:



- Coordinate with NIOSH - Need Statement of Purpose


- Identify State Resources - Identify Infrastructure needed


- Identify where $$ is - Who Should Lead?


- Take Advantage of small state size - Build on existing research and data


- Focus on Industry buy in - Identify key SICs to target


- Need good baseline data - Set up Surveillance data system


- Design system for sharing info - research "systems/networks"


- Affiliate with Public Health Schools - link with Harvard School of Pub H.


- link with Me Center for Public H. - Form an Advisory Bd/Steering Com


- Tie into USM Workforce research - Consider using NORA focus areas


- the Maine Research Agenda must be Maine specific


Flip Chart #4: Who are the Stakeholders?:

- Trade Associations - Workersí Families


- Unions - State Planning Office


- Workers - Local Govít


- Universities - Insurers


- Data Organizations - Fed Govít


- State Govít - Employers (Public & Private)


- Educators - Social Advocates


- Politicians - Enforcement (OSHA, etc..)


- Medical Community - Occ Safety Community


- Public Safety Orgs (FF, Police, etc..) - Biz Groups (Chambers, etc..)


- Pub Health Service Providers - NIOSH


- Researchers - Foundations


- Economic Development Groups - Wk Comp Bd


Flip Chart #5: Assessment of Commitment Levels

Time; Energy; Money:





- see how effective other coordinated research programs have been


- advertise successes


- assess the amount of funding available to support the effort


- identify leaders - leaders must be highly respected in research/data community


-identify private sector leaders - must have some commitment from Private Sector


- assess state/fed govít support/commitment - Gov., Commissioners, NIOSH, etc..


- determine what is needed to create an effective "network" for the data sharing


- to be successful the Advisory Committee must be "Active"


- Need a clear statement of "Purpose" to get commitment from all parties






Flip Chart #6: Next Steps:



- All agreed on the need to Form an Advisory Committee


Committee members must be:

- committed/ motivated

- must have the time

- made up of stakeholders

- Committee must have clear mission

- leadership and accountability must be established

- time lines must be set out

- work on the Committee must be considered to be "a part of their job"

- their employers must support the Mission and time commitment

- consider a geographic mix - but also take into consideration travel issues


- the Advisory Committee should be consider an Ad Hoc group - to develop "plan" and put plan forward to "stakeholdersí - then only meet as needed


- Consider the "Maine Sci & Tech Assoc" as a Model


- Committee membership must be diverse and representative of stakeholders


- Must have some non-technical members on Committee also


- keep size of Advisory Committee manageable












NORA Development and Synthesis














































Special Session Flip Chart Summaries































Special Session Attendee lists





























Special Session "notes"












































Symposium - "Proceedings"