Researcher Spotlight: Professor Anne Drummond
PROFESSOR ANNE DRUMMOND
UCD School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Sports Science
UCD Centre for Safety and Health at Work
Increasing Knowledge and Understanding of Occupational Safety and Health
Professor Anne Drummonds' Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) research impact has been in two broad areas.
Her data-related research has highlighted flaws in the Irish OSH data-collection system, which have improved national data collection. This has provided additional and more accurate and useful occupational safety and health data. This data has been used to update and increase the number of resources and guidelines for policymakers planning preventive actions aiming to reduce road fatalities.
Her educational research has provided a template for the supports needed by working adults on part-time higher education programmes. This is to facilitate their settling quickly into University, rather than being distracted by having to figure out how to navigate University systems.
Professor Drummond also has a variety of leadership roles both within UCD and in the wider occupational health and safety realm.
Professor Drummonds' main research interests are in the optimising of the use of national-level data on occupational safety and health (OSH). Her research illustrates how moving research into practice can take time.
In the mid-2000s she was commissioned to review aspects of the National Irish OSH Data Collection systems.She found that when the police collected accident data at the roadside following road traffic collisions asked about the purpose of the journey, there was no “at work” response available to them.
The simple addition of that possible response took a few years to get into the system, but that and other findings meant that interest the whole area of work-related road safety expanded. Yet, the full extent of the problem of work-related road injuries was still unknown.
In 2015-16, Prof Drummond’s team visited all of Irelands' coroners, and physically searched their paper files, recording and counting the road traffic fatalities that involved workers. This data showed that, over four years, nearly a quarter of all road traffic fatalities involved someone at work, either the person that died or another party.
The impact of this finding is that road traffic fatalities can be potentially reduced by 25% if road safety is made a huge priority within the workplace.
Professor Drummonds work in a research advisory capacity on a variety of national committees (e.g. Work-related Vehicle Safety Consultative Panel, and the steering group for a HSA collaboration with the ESRI) has contributed to identifying and finding solutions for the gaps in data capture and potential for utilisation of secondary data.
She has also lead and collaborated on research projects in the domain of public health, including leading a study on the prevalence of drug use among the Irish prisoner population, and collaborating in the All Ireland Traveller Health Study on traveller and prisoner health.
Professor Drummond’s key impact, on the data collection side, has been a national-level focus on how Occupational Safety and Health data that is routinely collected at national level can be optimised.
Her work has sought to ensure that as much information as possible can be gleaned from what is already available and to continually improve the systems.
A key impact of the road traffic study findings was enhancing recognition of the importance of definitions, especially the fact that a worker does not have to die for an accident to be work-related.
In many road traffic accidents involving people driving for work in cars, the link to work may not be established, but the prevention solutions are in the workplace as well as on the road.
Another impact from the Coroner road fatality data findings is that previously the data was not there to support the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) putting focus in the area.
In 2019, a headline from the Health and Safety Authority’s 2018 annual report revealed that vehicles are the biggest workplace killer in Ireland, on and off the road. Over the past few years, the HSA has updated and increased the number of resources and guidelines based on information from the UCD Coroner study.
Professor Drummond is sure that, in this context, broadening peoples’ understanding of what constitutes a work-related fatality has made and will continue to make a difference to policymakers and the general public alike.
Professor Drummond is a member of a research steering group that oversees research carried out by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) for the HSA. The ESRI use existing data from Irish and European survey data and delve into it to seek new findings.
Professor Drummond is an advocate of making information accessible to all, and to that end recommended publication of plain English summaries of the reports.
The ESRI has produced a large number of OSH-related reports, using existing Irish and European data, that have provided invaluable information for the HSA, employers, managers and unions. Plain English summaries have the impact of making the findings more accessible to potential readers, managers and workers, who may not have research training.
Teaching and Learning
Prof Drummond has a deep interest in the pedagogy of Teaching and Learning and has received university and national Teaching Awards, based on for her work on providing learning supports that she designed using outcomes from her teaching research for non-traditional students.
She designed and coordinates the UCD blended-online Certificate in Safety and Health at Work, designed, and currently teaches and coordinates several modules on both the UCD Higher Diploma and MSc programmes in OSH.
Because she completed all of her third level education on a part-time basis while working full-time, Prof Drummond has a deep understanding of, and interest in, the needs of her students, all of whom are part-time working adult students who have busy lives, with work and family commitments.
Her Ph.D. focused on finding out the issues faced by and the needs of working adult students. Based on that research she developed a suite of resources that support working adult students on OSH courses in UCD, so-called ‘College Knowledge’ resources.
These resources help students to settle into college quickly so that they focus on the study part and not waste too much time trying to navigate the system. In 2009 and 2015 respectively, Prof Drummond received University and National teaching awards for her work in this area.
In the video below Prof Drummond speaks about her "Teaching Strategies for Success".
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