Laurentian's Centre for Research in Occupational Safety and Health to launch mobile unit June 28

Experts at the Centre for Research in Occupational Safety and Health (CROSH) in Sudbury want to hear about health and safety issues from workers in rural and remote areas of Ontario.

Next month the research facility at Laurentian University will launch a mobile unit meant to travel across the province.

The large vehicle will act as a portable laboratory for any of the 40 multidisciplinary researchers at CROSH, says Director Sandra Dorman.

They’ll gather information from workplaces outside of Sudbury, where most of the studies and experiments currently are conducted.

“We’ve got the home lab where we can bring ideas back and test them out, but the mobile lab allows us to get the information in the field, bring it back to the lab for testing and then go back to the field, to ensure that the new ideas actually work,” says Dorman.

The traveling lab will allow CROSH researchers to determine what particular health and safety issues are affecting workers in rural and remote locations. 

In turn, the experts and scientists can find solutions to those problems.

Dorman says the mobile unit will allow researchers with CROSH to access workplaces that have principally been ignored because of their geography.

Workers will have a voice

“Even just getting a chance to talk to workers that are outside the 2 or 3 hours radius of Sudbury, ” says Tammy Eger, the Research Chair for CROSH.

“We want to hear what are the issues up in Fort Frances, in Kirkland Lake, in Kenora, in Sioux Lookout, Timmins, Chapleau. That’s the idea, they’ll have a voice.”

Eger added that a voice for workers is important.

“You want people to have an opportunity to speak and let [researchers] know what their issues are, so we can help to be a part of the solution.”

There will always be at least one research technician managing the lab when it’s on the road.

There may also be a team of researchers on the vehicle depending on what topic is being studied at the time.

Eger says the mobile unit could support research projects that focus on mental health, fatigue in the workplace, heat stress or anything from an occupational health and safety perspective.

This is the only portable lab of its kind in Canada, devoted to occupational health and safety research.

The CROSH mobile research unit will officially open June 28.

Eger says the portable lab will likely travel over northern Ontario during an official tour launch in the fall.

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