Safety & Health Assessment & Research for Prevention (SHARP) — Research for Safe Work

About the Healthy Workplaces Project

The Healthy Workplaces Project strives to identify factors that contribute to creating a healthy workplace and to disseminate information across industry sectors. To date, the Safety and Health Assessment and Research for Prevention (SHARP) Program has worked with the following industries:

The overall goal of the Healthy Workplaces Project is to reduce work-related injuries within a given industry. The project was created to test the following hypotheses:

  • Workplaces with high financial and organizational health also have a high level of employee health and safety
  • The way a workplace is organized determines whether it is financially healthy and worker healthy and
  • Identifying best practices in the healthiest of workplaces and promoting them throughout the industry will improve both the safety and health of the industry and, most importantly, the safety and health of its workers

Company participation in the Healthy Workplaces Project is voluntary and all information gathered is confidential.

Healthy Workplaces Project elements

Selecting an industry

SHARP developed a series of criteria that were used to select industry candidates. The goal was to select an industry in which we could have a major impact on the prevention of work-related injuries and illnesses.

High hazard industry

Each industry in Washington State was ranked according to a three-year average of workers' compensation claims data. SHARP then identified the 25 most hazardous industries.

Intra-industry dispersion

SHARP evaluated the top industries that exhibited significant variation in company size, workers' compensation claims rates, employee turnover, and growth of employment over a five-year period.

Industry structure

SHARP further selected industries with the following criteria:

  1. Had relatively similar products and processes,
  2. Lacked dominance by any one company,
  3. Had the assistance and interest of trade associations and labor representatives

Industry perspective

Once an industry is selected, SHARP holds industry-wide telephone surveys or focus groups with employers and industry representatives. The surveys and focus groups gather information about industry trends, product quality, productivity, economics, safety and health programs, and strategies used to overcome safety and health challenges. Industry trade associations and labor representatives are contacted and invited to participate in the project.

Company site visits

SHARP conducts site visits to a small number of companies who participate in the phone survey or focus groups. The goals of the site visits are to identify workplace hazards, determine methods used to reduce hazardous exposures, assess workplace organizational factors, and to identify company strategies that seek to reduce injuries and illnesses.

Promoting prevention

The telephone surveys, focus groups, site visits, and L&I databases are used to develop educational materials that focus on hazards common to all companies within an industry. Special emphasis is placed on promoting specific strategies that companies may be using to reduce work-related injuries or illnesses. Information is disseminated through statewide mailing of written materials, conduct of management level training, and articles published in trade journals.

Project staff

The Healthy Workplaces Project is staffed with a multidisciplinary team. This team has expertise in industrial hygiene, toxicology, safety engineering, economic research, occupational medicine, occupational nursing, epidemiology, ergonomic solutions, and public health.

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