In the last decade, LMRIS demonstrated excellence in driver distraction and inattention. With the advancement of new vehicle technologies, telematics and automation, it was increasingly important to understand how drivers make decisions, choose behaviors and perceive risks. Especially critical are the risks associated with distraction and fatigue, which are among the most common causes of crashes today. Researchers exposed drivers to “hazardous” driving scenarios under controlled conditions, either in a simulator or in a dual-controlled instrumented vehicle to study the following research questions:
- Drowsy Driving: Identifying Physiological Precursors to Crashing
- Impact of Task Engagement on Driving Performance
- Driver Calibration in Performance Self-Appraisals
- Age-Related Differences in U.S. Fatal Intersection Crashes
LMRIS has further established as a leader in safety climate research, with peer-reviewed science on safety climate assessment tools and insights that companies can use to improve safety from the ground up. Safety climate is a leading indicator of safety, thus Institute researchers decided to focus on off-site or “lone” workers (initiated in early 2000). Institute researchers wanted to know if safety climate could predict injury even among those who work in relative isolation. Some of the salient landmarks are listed below in the figure:
The research Institute has been a trailblazer in physical ergonomics research. With an establishment of the state-of-the art biomechanics laboratory, our researchers started developing a three-dimensional biomechanical model to help address the shoulder-related injuries at workplace that are often very difficult to understand.
Elevated carpal tunnel pressure has been associated with carpal tunnel syndrome. Our researchers systematically evaluated the effect of wrist motion resistance and grip type on carpal tunnel pressure in vivo during wrist motion typical of occupational tasks in 14 healthy individuals. Results could help inform design or modification of wrist motion intensive occupational tasks.
Researchers also explored the validity of using 3-D video gaming technology as a low-cost, scalable alternative to traditional, laboratory-based motion analysis systems. If validated, the technology could provide a new way for safety practitioners to assess workplace tasks and related risks in field settings.
Since 1960s to the present decade, Liberty Mutual research in Tribology has grown enormously, thus slips, trips and falls research has been further extended to the built environments, especially the influence of physical design and construction on injury risks. Researchers at LMRIS stared looking into balance control among older adults, one of the most at-risk groups in our communities, as they negotiate stairs, a common location of falls at home or in other environments. With collaborators at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, our scientists investigated age-related changes in neuromuscular gait control as they relate to stair negotiation to better understand what can be done to reduce stair-related injuries in our aging population.
To better understand the association between visual cues, perception of slipperiness and gait in built environments, researchers conducted a study on gait and subjective perceptions, while participants walked on five different floors under three different surface conditions.
The Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index
For the last 16 years, Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index has been helping employers, risk managers and safety researchers identify critical risk areas and allocate safety resources effectively. In addition to producing 2016’s Safety index, our researchers analyzed the prior index series to better understand how the most serious, disabling workplace injuries trended over time. They found that during the 13-year period from 1998 to 2010, the direct costs of the most disabling U.S. workplace injuries grew nominally by 38 percent, from $37.1 billion in 1998 to $51.1 billion in 2010. To understand this Safety Index in simplistic terms, each year, our researchers rank the top 10 causes of serious, nonfatal workplace injuries and their direct costs to U.S. businesses using information from Liberty Mutual, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the National Academy of Social Insurance. These findings support the need for continued development of research and interventions aimed at reducing the U.S. workplace injury burden.