From Research to Reality

​The Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety produces the tri-annual From Research to Reality publication which translates the Institute’s scientific findings into digestible knowledge and practical application. Select a publication below to read about key research areas and scientific initiatives.

Driver Safety: Night Shifts and Drowsy Driving

Drowsy driving is a major public health concern accounting for one in five fatal car crashes. Our researchers study drowsy driving to raise awareness of the problem and inform interventions.  Read More . . .

Low Back Pain: Impact of Early MRI

Up to 80% of people will experience low back pain in their lifetime. If sudden-onset low back pain strikes, would you immediately request an MRI from your doctor or wait at least a month?  Our scientists found that getting an MRI too early (within the first 30 days from low back pain onset), results in longer disability and higher risk of expensive and potentially unnecessary treatments. Read More . . .

Safety Climate: Predicting Risk with Science

When it comes to safety, supervisors and workers see things differently.  According to scientific research, an organization's safety climate (its employees' shared safety perceptions) is a leading indicator of safety outcomes. Learn more about safety climate, how it is measured and how it differs between supervisors and workers.  Read More . . .

Distracted Driving: In-Vehicle Distractions
Distracted driving kills more than 3,000 people and injures hundreds of thousands in the U.S. each year.  As part of our distracted driving research, scientists studied in-vehicle glances during driving.  They found that a glance, even as brief as two seconds, can have a negative safety impact.  Learn more about the study and its implications.  Read More . . .
Research Institute: 60th Anniversary 1954 to 2012
Celebrating 60 years of helping to reduce injuries and disability, the Research Institute is building upon existing strengths to address injuries at home, in the community, at work and on the road. Our 60th anniversary issue introduces the Institute’s expanded research areas and emerging knowledge translation initiative and looks back at a rich legacy of safety research. Read More . . .
Multiple Jobs: U.S. Trend Brings New Risks
As part of a new initiative to examine U.S. population trends and explore how different trends impact safety, Liberty Mutual epidemiologists and demographers conducted a first-look investigation into the potential implications of multiple job holding on injury risk. Specifically, the researchers set out to determine whether those who worked more than one job faced an increased risk of injury, both on and off the job.  Read More . . .
Slips and Falls: Using Perception to Gauge Risk
​U.S. emergency rooms treat about 25,000 patients with severe, fall-related injuries every day. What’s worse is that the burden associated with fall injuries is on the rise. The working world saw a 42 percent increase in the burden associated with same-level falls from 1998 to 2010 (2012 Workplace Safety Index). This issue highlights slips-and falls research aimed at identifying modifiable risks that can be lessened through simple, often low-cost interventions such as proper housekeeping. A principal thesis of this research is that surveying employees about risks is a quick and easy way to identify hazardous environments in the workplace. Read More . . .
Obesity in the Workplace: Weighing the Associated Risks
Since the 1960s, the number of U.S. adults whose body mass index (BMI) falls into the obese range has more than doubled. Although the word obesity is typically thought to imply extreme weight, in truth, clinical obesity (defined as BMI > 30) is not always readily apparent. Whether perceptible or not, the fact that obesity increases the risk of health issues such as hypertension, type 2 diabetes and heart disease is fairly well established.  This issue focuses on obesity in the context of work-related injury and return to work. While research in these areas is relatively new, it is an important first step toward increasing employer awareness of concomitant issues and identifying potential ways of addressing them. Read More . . .
Ladder Safety: New Heights in Research
​People routinely use ladders at home and at work, but they don’t always take care to do so safely. Improper ladder use is a leading cause of severe fall-related injuries. This issue focuses on the Institute's research aimed to more fully understand the risk factors and mechanisms underlying ladder-related injuries.  Read More . . .
Return-to-Work Coordinators: Understanding Their Role
Disability is a major contributor to the burden of workplace injury and it can have a devastating impact on injured workers and their families. Our disability research program aims to identify strategies to achieve early, safe and sustained return to work (RTW). We examine the RTW process holistically—as an integrated system—but we also look at each element. This issue is devoted to RTW coordinators, who play a pivotal role in the process by communicating with and supporting injured workers and other stakeholders in order to facilitate a smooth, safe return to work. Read More . . .
Office Worker Safety: Ergonomic Interventions
Many things can impact worker safety during computer use—input devices, furniture, postures, visual environments, task design and organizational and psychosocial factors. Our findings have provided compelling evidence that appropriate workstations, combined with comprehensive, interactive ergonomics training and management support, can reduce musculoskeletal discomfort among computer users. Read More . . .
Workplace Safety: New Research Directions
This issue is devoted to sharing some of the Institute’s exciting research directions.  Our research capacity in the areas of occupational demography, sociotechnical systems analysis, pain self-management and shoulder injuries has the potential to significantly improve workplace safety. By expanding the scope of our scientific inquiry and research interests, we hope to discover important and novel approaches to help people live safer, more secure lives. ​Read More . . .
Safety Climate: New Promise for Injury Prevention
Safety climate is a measurable construct that reflects employee perceptions of the true safety priorities within their organizations. It has significant implications for helping businesses improve their organizational safety cultures and outcomes. This issue highlights our first large-scale field study on this topic, examining safety climate among lone mobile and remote workers. Read More . . .
 
Slips and Falls in Restaurants: Reducing Worker Risk
This issue highlights the findings from our study of worker slips and falls in limited-service restaurants. Our findings provide the scientific basis for targeted safety interventions that can effectively reduce slip and fall hazards in restaurants and other at-risk industries. In this issue, we take a glimpse at the research-to-reality process -- translating scientific knowledge into practical tools and recommendations that industries can use to enhance workplace safety.  ​Read More . . .
Work-Related Electrical Injuries: Study Sparks New Insights
Electrical exposures kill or seriously injure thousands of U.S. workers on the job. Although research and prevention efforts have successfully reduced fatalities in high-risk industries, there is still much to learn. Seeking to close this knowledge gap, the Research Institute conducted a study of nonfatal electrical injuries. Using the latest narrative text analysis methods, researchers extracted valuable information on potential injury mechanisms and contributing factors from more than 1,200 reported electrical injury cases. The findings draw attention to the need for more focused intervention and mitigation strategies to reduce electrical hazards in the workplace.  ​Read More . . .
Achieving Return to Work Success: Difficult Cases
The Research Institute conducts investigations to better understand the barriers that can prevent return to work and to identify interventions to help avoid prolonged disability. Such interventions are important to both employees, whose health and well-being are often linked to employment status, and employers, who benefit from reduced costs, lower turnover and improved morale. This issue focuses on some of the cutting-edge research that is currently underway in this area. Read More . . .         
Occupational Fatigue Research: Facing the Challenges Head On
Fatigue is a pervasive problem in our society that adversely affects the quality and safety of our daily lives. At home and on the job, fatigue-induced errors can have devastating consequences. With a view toward reducing the incidence and consequences of fatigue-related injuries, our scientists explore ways to better understand the underlying mechanisms of fatigue, and to identify specific risk factors.  ​Read More . . .
Protective Eyewear in the Workplace: Examining Barriers to Use
​Every day, approximately 2,000 U.S. workers sustain a work-related eye injury that requires medical treatment, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. This level has persisted for several years despite the existence of proven engineering and administrative controls for reducing eye injury exposures. Our eye injury research focuses on identifying factors that inhibit or prevent the use of effective interventions, in particular, protective eyewear. Our research aims to inform measures that promote protective eyewear use in the workplace and, ultimately, may help reduce the burden of occupational eye injuries. Read More . . .
Aging Workforce: New Challenges in Safety and Disability Research
The “graying of the workforce” presents new safety challenges to workers and work organizations. That’s why, for the past decade, the Research Institute has conducted occupational safety and disability research geared to the specific needs of older workers. Through a wide range of disciplines, including disability research, injury epidemiology, biomechanics and behavioral sciences, our scientists attempt to identify modifiable risk factors unique to older workers with the goal of informing interventions. ​Read More . . .
Caution: Your Safety Warnings May Not Be Working
Safety warnings are part of the fabric of modern-day living. At home, at work, and in any number of places in between, such communications are intended to help prevent actions and decisions that can lead to injury, illness and even death. Yet, despite all good intentions, studies show that safety warnings are often ineffective.  This issue highlights the Research Institute’s ongoing program in hazard communication, which aims to improve the design and effective use of workplace warning signs. ​Read More . . .
Occupational Knife Safety
The Research Institute’s occupational knife safety investigations have yielded new technologies, force data and ergonomic knowledge to help reduce the exposures associated with on-the-job knife use. From laboratory studies of simulated knife cutting tasks, to field studies in meat packing plants, our research uses a unique direct measurement approach to understanding and combating the associated risk of repetitive motion injuries. Our findings have significance across many industry sectors including food processing, restaurants and hospitality, manufacturing and construction – and may even provide everyday knife users with some useful safety insights.  Read More . . .
Driver Distraction Takes a Front Seat in Roadway Safety Concerns
Reducing the toll of highway crashes has been a Research Institute priority since the 1950s when we pioneered safety interventions such as seat belts and collapsible steering columns. Over the years, our work has shifted to crash avoidance research, where the focus is driver cognition and behavior. Why the change in focus? Because the scientific literature shows that driver error is a factor in about 80 percent of highway crashes. Among the most prevalent underlying causes of driver error is driver distraction. Our research in this area has yielded new insights that will help identify ways to mitigate the associated risks and make our roads safer. ​Read More . . .
Workplace Safety Index
The Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index, published annually since 2000, has had important impact not only on the direction of our research, but also on how we, and others, think about the enormous toll of occupational injury. It is a powerful reminder that occupational injury is a major public health concern. The Research Institute continues to dig deeper into each of the top 10 causes of disabling occupational injury. By exploring the data further and gaining a greater understanding of the underlying trends, we believe the Institute will be able to develop ever more effective research programs. The more we know about the numbers, the better able we are to focus our research efforts on the ultimate goal of helping people live safer, more secure lives.   Read More . . .
Pace Yourself: What You Should Know About Slips, Trips, and Fall
​The problem of slips, trips and falls touches everyone. Whether on the job, at home, or elsewhere, slip, trip and fall hazards are a part of everyday life. The Research Institute takes a unique, multidisciplinary approach to the study of same-level slips, trips and falls. With experts in tribology, biomechanics, psychology and epidemiology, our diverse research staff studies the underlying mechanisms and potential contributors in this area from various scientific angles. Our scientific findings aim to form the basis for practical interventions and strategies to reduce slip-, trip-, and fall-related injuries at work, at home and elsewhere. Read More . . .       
Manual Materials Handling: A Closer Look
Manual materials handling tasks are present in practically all industries and account for more than a quarter of all compensable work injuries. For this, the Research Institute has a rich history of manual materials handling research. Our scientific findings, translate into practical applications and recommendations that help countless companies minimize job risks and control costs. In this way, our manual materials handling research helps to fulfill Liberty Mutual’s longstanding commitment to help people live safer, more secure lives. ​Read More . . .
Supervisor Training: Reducing Disability Claims and Costs
Mindful of the millions of workers who lose time each year due to work-related injuries, we have devoted this issue to “occupational disability.” Historically under-researched, this vitally important topic has far-reaching implications for employers and injured workers. In this issue, you’ll learn about some of the fascinating findings from our studies of disability management training for supervisors. By sharing our research findings, we hope to encourage employers to adopt programs that promote early, safe and sustained return to work. Ultimately, the goal is to help control the vast personal and business losses associated with occupational disability. ​Read More . . .