Worker and Community Health


Home-care Workers
The Labor Education and Research Center has been documenting the transformation of home health care in Oregon since workers gained union representation in 2001. This transformation has particularly benefited women who make up the majority of home health providers. Supported by funding from the Library of Congress, Professor Bob Bussel led a project that interviewed nearly three dozen home care workers and videotaped their stories. This project continues with “The Quiet Revolution,” a documentary film that will discuss the broad public benefits of adopting a collaborative approach to the delivery of health care services.

Researcher Jennifer Hess also recently completed a five-year study as part of the Total Worker Health ™ Program in collaboration with the Oregon Healthy Workforce Center at Oregon Health Sciences University. This study focused on interventions to provide home care workers with tools and a support network to better identify hazards and reduce injuries.

Building Trades
Faculty members, including Jennifer Hess and Sarah Laslett, are using a multi-pronged approach to reduce injuries in the building trades. LERC also has a long-standing partnership with Tradeswomen Inc. to provide trainings and curriculum development.

In addition, the Safety Voice for Ergonomics (SAVE) study is a collaborative research project with Eastern Washington University where Jennifer Hess is working to develop ergonomic training materials for masonry workers.  This project has broad implications for Oregon as well as for masonry workers throughout the country. Sarah Laslett has assisted with curriculum development to disseminate the information.

Laslett is also working on a grant with the University of Washington to identify health and safety risks that are unique to women apprentices in the building and construction trades. Initial research has found evidence of gender-specific risks for these workers. The next step is to develop and test programs to empower women and reduce physical injuries and psycho-social stressors.

Workplace Bullying and Violence is a Health and Safety Concern
Workplace bullying and mobbing is a worker health and safety concern that can lead to workplace injuries and accidents, decline in productivity, increased emotional stress, and physical health issues for both the victim and witnesses of this behavior.  Aggression and verbal abuse by supervisors, co-workers, clients, and third parties are also associated with workplace violence and harassment.  Bullying is unfortunately common and is found across sectors.  LERC is working on research and curriculum to raise attention, and cultivate new workplace practices, to address this problem.  The report, Bullying in the Workplace (2014) by Barbara Byrd, Helen Moss, and Deborah Mailander, analyzes how arbitrators and collective bargaining agreements have addressed this issue.  In 2018, Deborah Mailander developed this flyer on workplace bullying for LERC. The flyer content was adapted by the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries and posted on their website.