Photo: Selkirk instructor Delia Roberts will conduct research focusing on injury prevention and performance enhancement.
Selkirk College recently received two large grants on behalf of faculty member Delia Roberts to conduct research projects focusing on injury prevention and performance enhancement for the ski and trucking industries.
Roberts, who holds a PhD in Medical Science from the University of Calgary and teaches in the School of University Arts and Sciences at the college, was successful in her application for a $105,000 operating grant through WorkSafeBC’s "Focus on Tomorrow" research program.
This grant will fund a project to develop an injury prevention program for ski area employees in Western Canada.
Lift attendants, ski and snowboard instructors and patrols will all be studied at five different areas; our local Red Mountain and Whitewater Ski Resorts, as well as Sun Peaks Resort and Lake Louise Ski Area and Sunshine Village in Alberta.
In addition, Roberts has been awarded $180,000 by Weyerhaeuser Company to examine the contributors to injuries in truck drivers. The BC Forest Safety Council is also contributing $43,000 to the project.
Logging operations in Princeton BC and in Oregon and Washington states will be the test sites for this study.
Over the next two years, research teams headed by Roberts, will investigate factors that lead to injuries in employees in these two industries. The results of the studies will be used to develop safety training programs for the targeted employee groups, which will then be tested to determine their effectiveness.
“These research projects are very exciting because they will allow us to provide quality information specific to each worker,” explained Roberts. “The research will examine exactly what needs to be fixed, and then provide a proven solution that is suitable for the lifestyle and culture of each industry”.
Local students and professionals will be working with Roberts on the projects, including Nelson-based physiotherapist Damien Moroney PT. Mountain Transport Institute will also be participating by providing the driving simulator for testing the level of alertness of the truck drivers.
“Conducting applied research at Selkirk College is beneficial for everyone involved” said Roberts. “Students can participate and see how their studies can translate into real changes in the workplace, they learn about the industries and the emerging field of integrated health management. Local businesses benefit as research dollars are spent locally, and workers all over BC will have access to the information that arises because of these studies. Hopefully, it will help them to increase their health and decrease the risk of workplace injuries.”
Occupational injuries are a costly problem for ski areas in Western Canada. According to WorkSafeBC, claim costs incurred on injuries with time loss for workers of the Ski Hill/Gondola Ride industry totalled an average of more than $1.1 million per year for the past 5 years.
In the United States, injuries in truck drivers account for nearly $900 million and 15% of workplace fatalities every year. In 2009 in British Columbia, the total claim costs incurred on injuries with time lost for the general trucking industry was $69 million and for log haulers it was $3.3 million.
These are generally large claims with the average total claim cost in 2009 being $460,000. The annual claim rate in 2009 for log haulers was 5.4 claims per 100 person years compared to the provincial average for all industries of 2.34 claims per 100 person years.
Roberts has previously conducted several successful research projects on behalf of Selkirk College including a well-known tree-planting program. “Fit to Plant” is a direct result of Roberts’ research and is widely used in silviculture and wild land firefighting.
The program has been recognized internationally as a landmark example of a successful workplace injury prevention intervention.
Visit http://selkirk.ca/research/faculty-research/tree-planting/ for more information on Roberts’ research.
First published on November 29, 2010