Researchers from the French National Research and Safety Institute (INRS), Vandoeuvre, France, received the 2008 Liberty Mutual Award for their scientific paper, “Progress in Understanding Processes Underlying Occupational Accidents on the Level Based on Case Studies.”
The paper, published in Ergonomics (Vol. 50, No. 1, pp. 59-79, 2007), provides an in-depth analysis of “on–the-level” occupational accidents, that is, accidents triggered by an unexpected balance disturbance during work not performed at height, such as trips, slips or falls on the level. The winning investigation was conducted by Sylvie Leclercq, Ph.D. and Ergonomists Sandrine Thouy and Emmanuel Rossignol from the Working Life Department – Biomechanics and Ergonomics Laboratory at INRS.
The study was conducted in a cross-section of three of the 300 worksites belonging to a French rail transport company. The researchers analyzed available accident-on-the-level injury data, interviewed victims, examined the activity surrounding the accident and searched for recurrent accident scenarios. Following quantitative and qualitative analysis of the collected data, the researchers determined that accidents on the level are widespread in terms of place of occurrence, equipment used and activity surrounding the accident. They also found that despite these differences, on-the-level accidents present similarities in their underlying mechanisms.
The researchers determined that grouping accidents according to these similarities would be helpful in the development of effective intervention strategies.
“On-the-level accidents are a significant burden at both human and financial levels,” said Leclercq. “This award encourages us in our research, which seeks to accurately characterize accident scenarios with a goal of reducing these accidents. INRS and the authors are greatly honored by this recognition.”