Research Secretariat funds scientific and innovative projects

Issue: BCMJ, vol. 53, No. 5, June 2011, Page 234 WorkSafeBC

WorkSafeBC encourages and supports the development and use of the best scientific evidence on a broad range of workplace health and safety issues. In 2000, the WorkSafeBC Research Secretariat was created to:

• Support and finance high-quality scientific research that will lead to a reduction in work-related injury, disease, and death.
• Effectively translate research know­ledge into practical applications that can be used in the workplace to prevent occupational injury and disease, and that can be used by WorkSafeBC to ensure fair compensation for injured or ill workers and to foster successful rehabilitation and productive return to work.

Between 2001, when funding be­gan, and the end of 2010, the Research Secretariat awarded a total of $17.4 million in grants for more than 175 projects covering a wide range of topics and scientific disciplines, as well as 23 research training awards to master’s and doctoral students en­gaged in research activities that fall within WorkSafeBC’s mandate.

Projects have ranged from measuring the full costs and benefits of occupational health and safety interventions in health care to studying heart disease in firefighters and paramedics; developing a training video for employees with developmental disabilities; and studying the use of new technology to deliver and evaluate continuing medical education for physicians regarding workplace in­jury management.

Through a rigorously evaluated competitive process, the Research Secretariat provides grants for researchers and innovators. Through the Research at Work funding stream, professional researchers can apply for development or operational grants for scientifically valid projects that relate to WorkSafeBC’s mandate and demonstrate strong potential for impact.

Example: Comparing treatment protocols
Dr Jack Taunton was the principal investigator in a study to determine if ultrasound-guided dextrose injection therapy (UDIT) would achieve similar benefits if the time between treatments and the space between injection sites were reduced in patients with chronic injuries of the Achilles tendon or plantar fascia. The findings provided further evidence that UDIT results in improvements in pain and tendon healing. 

However, for Achilles tendon injuries, the modified treatment protocol was associated with slower im­provements in pain and tendon healing, and a need for more treatments.

The Innovation at Work stream provides support for research aimed at developing practical, shop-floor solutions that translate knowledge into practice or solve specific problems in the workplace. This funding opportunity is open to anyone with appropriate experience and ability.

Example: Participatory ergonomics
Dwayne Van Eerd and his team explor­ed ways of assessing and enhancing the benefits of participatory ergonomic interventions to reduce musculoskeletal injuries. Following the project’s initial success, the team was awarded an innovation grant to develop a participatory ergonomics guide for BC workplaces.

The grant application process
WorkSafeBC’s Research Secretariat holds regular grant competitions. The competition for Research at Work funding typically closes in January or February, while Innovation at Work competitions typically oc­cur twice a year. All applications are reviewed by scientific peer reviewers, and then by an internal relevance review committee and an external stakeholder advisory committee.

Programs and partnerships
WorkSafeBC’s Research Secretariat holds systematic review competitions on an as-needed basis, targeting specific issues of interest to WorkSafe­BC. Systematic reviews, completed or in progress, include carpal tunnel/cubital tunnel syndrome in workers, bronchogenic carcinoma in asbestos-exposed workers, low back pain in workers, multiple sclerosis as a compensable consequence, and primary cancer of the skin.

During the past several years, the Research Secretariat has form­ed partnerships with workers’ compensation organizations in other jurisdictions across Canada to support innovative research that benefits all Canadian workers, and a unique partnership with the Centre for Health Services and Policy Re­search (CHSPR) at UBC to de­velop a comprehensive picture of health and wellness trends for BC’s workers.

More information
For more information about WorkSafeBC’s Research Secretariat, its programs, or results; or to apply for a grant, please call 604 244-6300, or e-mail, or visit WorkSafe­ and click “Research” in the Quick Links menu.
— Susan Dixon
Manager, Knowledge Transfer, WorkSafeBC Research Secretariat

Mark your calendars
Don’t miss the annual WorkSafeBC conference for physicians
Saturday, 22 October 2011, in downtown Vancouver.

This article is the opinion of WorkSafeBC and has not been peer reviewed by the BCMJ Editorial Board.

Susan Dixon. Research Secretariat funds scientific and innovative projects. BCMJ, Vol. 53, No. 5, June, 2011, Page(s) 234 - WorkSafeBC.

Above is the information needed to cite this article in your paper or presentation. The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) recommends the following citation style, which is the now nearly universally accepted citation style for scientific papers:
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