4. Developing mechanisms for cooperative studies among industry, labor unions, and academia, including:
Establishing a database of and mechanism for communicating “best practices.”
Providing incentives for industry and union cooperation with due regard for proprietary considerations and administrative barriers.
Encouraging funding for such studies from industry, labor, academia, and government sources.
5. Revising administrative procedures to promote joint research funding among agencies.
6. Encouraging the exchange of scientific information among researchers interested in intervention research through a variety of mechanisms. Areas that could benefit include the development of (1) research methodologies, especially improved measurement of outcomes and exposures, covariates, and costs and (2) uniform approaches, allowing findings to be compared across studies. In addition, periodic meetings should be considered to bring together individuals with scientific and “best practices” experience.
In order to implement these suggestions, the scope of research and training activities of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health would have to be expanded and funding significantly increased. In addition, other federal agencies (e.g., the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, the National Institute of Mental Health) would have to broaden their support of research programs examining musculoskeletal disorders and the workplace. In the panel's view these steps deserve serious consideration.