Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Risks to Healthcare Workers

Healthcare is the fastest-growing sector of the U.S. economy employing over 18 million workers with women representing nearly 80 percent of the healthcare workforce. However, healthcare workers face a wide range of occupational hazards on the job. These hazards can include needlestick injuries, back injuries, latex allergies, exposure to infections, hazardous drugs, radiation, exposure to laser or electrosurgical smoke, violence, and stress.

CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is working on research to understand the risks and conditions associated with occupational diseases and injuries, explore ways to reduce risks, minimize exposure to hazardous conditions, and translate research findings into prevention practices and products to effectively reduce work related illnesses and injuries.

In order to meet the research needs of the workforce to help remedy problems in occupational safety, NIOSH established their National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) with plans to stimulate research and improve workplace practices. The goal is to support research that is relevant, of high quality, and demonstrates an impact on reducing occupations disease and injury.

In addition, NIOSH has initiated a “Research to Practice” (R2P) initiative to reduce or eliminate occupational illnesses and injuries. This will require the transfer and translation of knowledge, intervention, and technologies into highly effective prevention practices and products into the workplace. This means that the occupational safety and health community including researchers, communicators, decision-makers, and employer/employee groups will need to work collaboratively on research ideas.

To research and find ways to explore how to protect occupational health and reduce workforce injuries, NIOSH issued two Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) requests on July 27, 2012. Both grant opportunities seek research ideas to protect the workforce on the job.

NIOSH released their FOA “NIOSH Exploratory Developmental Grant Program (R21) plus their FOA “NIOSH Small Research Program” (R03).

The R03 mechanism supports small research projects that can be carried out in a short period of time with limited resources. Eligible applicants for both FOAs can include higher education institutions, nonprofits, for profits, governments, plus others.

The two FOAs have similar research goals to:

  • Identify and investigate the relationships between hazardous working conditions and associated occupational diseases and injures
  • Develop better ways to evaluate hazards at work sites
  • Develop methods for measuring early markers of adverse health effects and injuries
  • Develop new protective equipment and engineering control technology to reduce work-related illnesses and injuries
  • Develop work practices to reduce risks
  • Evaluate the technical feasibility or application of a new or improved occupational safety and health procedure, method, technique, or system
Go to http://grants.nih.gov/grants/pa-files/PAR-12-252.html for information on FOA (R21) and go to http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/pa-files/PAR-12-200.html for information on FOA (R03). The date for the earliest submission for both FOAs is September 16, 2012.