In Brief

  • In this pilot study, the authors selected the ecological momentary assessment research model as a tool to record the activities of environmental health and safety staff supporting an academic research institution conducted during typical work days.

  • The researchers determined that the primary activities performed were routine safety surveillance activities, responding to client service requests and necessary safety services, accounting for 45% of the recorded time expenditures.

  • Managers of safety and health programs may be interested in learning more about this tool to make more informed decisions about staffing and resource allocation and to better articulate to upper management what safety programs do.

A variety of safety and health risks exist on college and university campuses based on the types of teaching and research activities conducted. OSH programs are typically implemented to help identify and control these risks to keep students, faculty, staff and visitors safe. A significant challenge for decision makers at these institutions is how to determine appropriate staffing and resourcing levels for such programs. A further challenge to staffing is ensuring that the job description and duties accurately represent those activities that truly fall under the purview of the position.

Existing methods of measuring efforts often include some level of intense observation or surveillance, which staff may consider to be intrusive and cumbersome (Sewell, Barker & Nyberg, 2012). As a result, the Hawthorne Effect, described in other time and motion studies, may alter the way a staff member conducts his/her routine activities leading to an observed effect further from the normal (Fernald, Coombs, De Alleaume, et al., 2012). Brown, Emery, Delclos, et al.'s (2015), recently developed predictive models provide the ability to estimate staffing and resourcing needs in academic settings using institutional drivers such as total net assignable square footage, but the models do not account for staff productivity.

In this pilot study the authors utilized the ecological momentary assessment (EMA) research technique to record the work activities being undertaken by OSH personnel during a typical 8-hour work day in an effort to augment the Brown, et al., models by addressing worker productivity. Practicing OSH professionals were evaluated 1 day per week over a 5-week period (for a total of 5 work days, all weekdays) to determine the type of work conducted during the normal 8-hour work shift.

This content is only available via PDF.
You can access this article if you purchase or spend a download.