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.
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.