Research into musculoskeletal injuries in the tree planting profession.

Date: 
2012-07-05

The WSCA in collaboration with the human factors team at WorkSafeBC and their associates from ‘Action Learning Systems’ in Boston, Massachusetts are conducting preliminary research into musculoskeletal injuries in the tree planting profession. They are taking a unique approach for this pilot project: using Participatory Action Research (PAR) methods which involve gathering qualitative data in the form of stories, narratives and insights from multiple perspectives - planters, supervisors and owners. By learning how the work of planting trees and planter performance is understood from multiple perspectives, this project will provide broader insight into the complex, system-level workplace factors that affect musculoskeletal injuries.

Many factors/variables affect the way in which work is done in such varied and challenging environments. This approach seeks to understand how planters successfully manage various factors while juggling multiple goals and workplace constraints. It recognizes that planters have the ability to adapt to various conditions and environments in order to meet their objectives and those of their employers. The PAR methods seek to uncover these adaptive strategies, share them more broadly, and then test them in partnership with planters, supervisors, and contractors for system-orientated change. In particular, we have been examining how expert planters achieve a balance of high productivity, excellent quality and low injury rates. We’ve also discussed how the work environment can be designed to support and sustain this kind of performance.

So far the pilot study is still in the interview phase until early July and thereafter will be focused on the analysis and results. The interviews to date have given a very rich, broad and varied look at the tree planting industry and we’re excited to see what emerges from the data set.

If you are a planter, supervisor, or contractor and would like to contribute your perspective to this research please contact our human factor team via email at humanfactors@worksafebc.com

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