Op Shop Safety and Health

Thu, 06/06/2013 - 08:33 -- sewm02

Op Shop Safety and Health

The first undergraduate research project in the Occupational Safety program.

Student Researcher

Christopher A. Warnick
Senior in Occupational Safety
Phone Number
Honors Student? Yes

Faculty Mentor

Melissa W. Abbott, Ph.D., CSP
Associate Professor
Program Coordinator
Occupational Safety
Fairmont State University
Phone Number

Project Description

This project is designed to research occupational safety and health practices as it relates to Fairmont State University/Pierpont Community and Technical College. The selected constituencies of the study are the Op Shop employees whom characteristically have various disabilities. This provides the student researcher with an additional benefit of studying a population that has been historically overlooked in occupational safety and health. The parameters of the study shall include the following elements:
1. Review of job descriptions of Op Shop employees

a. What are the job tasks and what hazards exist?
b. What are the number of hours and times of day worked?
c. Where do employees work and how are they split into groups?

2. Review of on-campus injury and illness records

a. Where and when did the injury or illness occur?
b. What job task(s) was (were) being performed when injury or illness occurred?
c. What was the severity of the injury or illness?
d. What factors contributed to injury or illness?
e. Did the injury or illness result in a recordable, workers compensation, and/or lost time?
f. What injuries and illnesses are common with Op Shop employees at other locations?

3. Review of the training mechanisms in place to communicate safety and health hazards

a. What are the methods of delivery considering the various disabilities?
b. How often are employees trained?
c. What is the extent of training (how long and how in-depth)?
d. Do all employees get trained and, if not, what employees do?
e. What size group gets trained in one session?

After the study (a review of job descriptions, injury and illness records, and training mechanisms), appropriate actions of correction and/or enhancement will be taken. Before actions can be taken, approval must be given by all affected parties, which might include the Op Shop coordinator or the Op Shop employees themselves. These actions shall not have a negative impact on efficiency of job tasks unless benefits of actions outweigh slowing down the job task. Some examples of actions that could be taken are as follows:
1. Modification of job tasks

a. Incorporate appropriate forms of personal protective
. Provide ergonomic solutions to job tasks with ergonomic
. Determining what job tasks or positions on campus an employee may be best suited for

2. Train or assist in training employees

a. Provide task-specific (i.e. - vacuuming) or program-based (i.e. - HazCom)
. Modify existing or create new training methods to best suit various
. Increase or decrease frequency, length, or depth of existing training
. Train every existing employee and every new employee on their first day of
. Evaluate effectiveness of training via job task observation

The final product of the study will provide the researcher and mentor with a better understanding of occupational safety and health for individuals with disabilities. It is also the intent of the study to determine the financial impact that an occupational safety and health program shall have on organizations such as Fairmont State University, Pierpont Community and Technical College, and the Op Shop. This could ultimately establish a level of credibility for the Op Shop when working with organizations such as colleges and universities. Through the successful collection of data and collaboration with the Op Shop coordinator, the undergraduate researcher also intends for the study to offer the Op Shop additional methods to ensure safe performance of job tasks in the future.

Explanation: Benefits to the Student

Continuing with the theme of my last Undergraduate Research project, Waste Stream Cost Analysis, I feel as if I can make a difference for the University I attend. In this project I will focus on the safety and health of Op Shop employees, examining their processes and procedures to determine the risks involved and, ultimately, making a positive impact to the Op Shop program. This type of work is very similar to the roles of a safety professional in any occupation. Therefore, this experience will contribute to making me a more qualified candidate in looking for a career upon graduation. As an added benefit, to Dr. Abbott's knowledge, little, if any research has been conducted on the safety and health of those with disabilities. Dr. Abbott and I hope to get parts of our work published in safety and health journals and other publications. I am positive this research will benefit all entities involved.

Research Timeline

  • August
    • Create observation and data collection forms for job task observation
    • Meet with all affected parties before initiation of project
    • Begin job task observations
  • September
    • Job task observations
  • October
    • Modify job tasks
  • November
    • Develop training material and JSA's
  • December
    • Further job task observations to review material validity and effectiveness
  • January
    • Modify developed materials as needed
    • Determine what types of training are needed
  • February
    • Train employees on subjects determined in January
  • March
    • Assess and complete any final project tasks
  • April
    • Prepare for and present results at Celebration of Student Scholarship
  • May
    • Complete final report for June 1 deadline

Mentor's Statement of Support

In effort to support the goals of Fairmont State’s Strategic Plan, this research project would offer Mr. Warnick an opportunity to utilize his academic skills to enhance the occupational safety and health of the local disabilities community population. This research project is designed to offer safety and health assistance to the Op Shop as well as afford Mr. Warnick with an educational experience to identify the needs of special populations. The study would involve personal interaction with the constituencies as well as monitoring routine tasks. After data collection, Mr. Warnick would be able to propose various methods that the Op Shop could employ to ensure the safety and health of their employee special needs population.

With the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) guidelines, many employers often hire individuals which may need special accommodations to ensure employee safety. Unfortunately, there are currently limited studies or data available for such populations and conditions. This study could provide such data to the Op Shop and Fairmont State to develop methods to reduce employee injuries. This study would also present Mr. Warnick with an educational environment that cannot be simulated in the classroom.

Mr. Warnick has successfully lead a prior undergraduate research project across campus entitled Waste Stream Cost Analysis. He has also participated in internship opportunities with local industry to understand the application of his academic skills. As a senior in the Occupational Safety program, he has demonstrated that he can independently facilitate a successful safety and health project.

To ensure that Mr. Warnick’s research is of sound reason, Dr. Melissa Abbott will serve as his faculty mentor. Mr. Warnick will routinely review project components with Dr. Abbott. However, Mr. Warnick will serve as the principal investigator for the study. Dr. Abbott will guide Mr. Warnick to ensure project goals and deadlines are met. As his academic advisor, Dr. Abbott strongly supports the efforts of this research by Mr. Warnick.

Budget Proposal

Training Materials - $ 100
Janitorial Equipment - $ 200
Cleaning Material Samples - $ 100
Unanticipated Expenses - $ 290
Poster Preparation - $ 60
Student Stipend - $ 500/semester, total of $ 1000
Total Amount Proposed - $ 1750

Explanation: Budget

Training materials such as audio/visual aids (i.e. – training videos, flip charts/easels, etc.) and handouts are important accessories to the training that might be completed during this research. Some janitorial equipment currently used by Op Shop employees may be presenting a safety hazard and, therefore, alternatives for this equipment (i.e. – an ergonomically designed vacuum unit) may be purchased for trial. Furthermore, the cleaning materials that the Op Shop employees are utilizing may be presenting a health hazard and, therefore, alternatives for these substances may be purchased for trial. For a safety factor, we have included an amount for unanticipated expenses such as safety signs/posters, a digital video recorder, or additional training materials, janitorial equipment, or cleaning material samples. All unanticipated expenses will be well documented. A poster will need to be printed for the Celebration of Student Scholarship. Finally, a stipend will be awarded to the student each semester.

Op Shop Safety and Health Research Notes