In Brief

A report released in April by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is calling for more research on the changing nature of work and the effects on worker safety and health.

Such research is needed since workers have experienced rapid change in recent years, says Steven Sauter, PhD, team leader for the report. "We need to invest more research energy to investigate these changes," he says, adding that this is a promising field of research for psychologists.

While negative changes--such as increased workload demands and longer work hours--plague the workplace, positive changes have also been evident, such as the potential for increased worker decision-making in the context of high performance work systems. Research could also shed light on the impact of these different trends on employees' safety and health, Sauter says.

The report, developed by NIOSH and its partners under the National Occupational Research Agenda, highlighted the need for action in several areas, including:

  • Improve surveillance to evaluate the organization of work and how it's evolving.

  • Accelerate research on safety and health effects of the changing organization of work.

  • Focus more research on organizational interventions to protect safety and health.

  • Take steps to create "organization of work" as a distinct field in occupational safety and health, and to improve research and research funding opportunities.

--M. DITTMANN

Further Reading

To view the NIOSH report, visit www.cdc.gov/niosh/02-116pd.html.