July 14, 2022

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) COVID-19 Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA) program, comprised of UNC scientists and other external experts, was recently recognized as a finalist for the Bullard-Sherwood Research to Practice (r2p) Award, recognizing outstanding applications of occupational safety and safety health research to practice.

NIOSH, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), presents the Bullard-Sherwood Research-to-Practice (r2p) Awards annually to recognize outstanding efforts by its scientists and their partners in applying occupational safety and health research to prevent work-related injury, illness and death. The award is named in honor of two distinguished individuals who have made significant improvements in workplace injury and illness prevention.

The NIOSH-led program, “NIOSH COVID-19 IPA Program: Expanding Occupational Health and Safety Expertise Through External Partnerships,” won an honorable mention in the intervention category.

Dr. Leena Nylander-French

Dr. Leena Nylander-French

Dr. John Staley

Dr. John Staley

Leena Nylander-French, PhD, CIH, director of the North Carolina Occupational and Safety and Health Education Resource Center (NC OSHERC) and professor of occupational and environmental health at UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, and John Staley, PhD, NC OSHERC deputy director and adjunct assistant professor of health policy and management at the Gillings School, were recognized for their work assisting underserved workers and small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Staley guided the creation of a bilingual video series for vulnerable construction workers at Hope Renovations in Carrboro, N.C., whose founder and CEO, Nora El-Khouri Spencer, was recently named a 2022 CNN Hero. The videos were developed using a Total Worker Health® (TWH) approach addressing workplace safety and health hazards as well as factors impacting worker well-being. This project led to Staley’s current study of women and other workers from underrepresented communities in the construction trades to identify and address barriers to success and improve overall well-being in the profession.

Similarly, he also co-developed a small business webinar series, titled “Airborne Transmissible Disease (ATD) Prevention – Moving the Needle Forward,” to guide small businesses in using TWH hierarchy of controls to address COVID-19 risk in the workplace and promote worker well-being. These projects were developed to specifically address workplace risk factors impacting our most vulnerable workers.

In addition, Nylander-French assisted a NIOSH vaccine task force in developing sector- and industry-specific tools and resources for vaccination plans of essential workers.

These projects were supported by the expertise of CDC/NIOSH scientists as part of the National Occupational Research Agenda.

“While the COVID-19 pandemic was devasting to businesses internationally, it did bring a renewed focus on the critical importance of occupational safety, health and worker well-being for the success of businesses, as well as delivery of essential services,” said Nylander-French. “Projects like NC OSHERC’s Carolina PROSPER emerged to assist small- and medium-sized businesses with the rapidly changing landscape of the workplace. These efforts and new initiatives by NC OSHERC and its faculty will continue to serve the N.C. workforce and businesses in dealing with existing and emerging 21st-century challenges in the workplace.”

Contact the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health communications team at sphcomm@unc.edu.

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