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New oh&s research centre opens at Laurentian

Centre for Research in Occupational Safety and Health moves to new lab


(Canadian OH&S News) — The Centre for Research in Occupational Safety and Health (CROSH) in Sudbury, Ont. has opened its own laboratory and research facility at Laurentian University, marking the first time that the seven-year-old organization has had its own home.

The official launch of the new CROSH venue, located in Laurentian’s Ben Avery building, took place on April 27. “It was very, very well attended, and it was attended by all the right people,” said Dr. Michel A.S. Larivière, a clinical psychologist, an associate professor of human kinetics with the Northern Ontario School of Medicine and the associate director of CROSH.

Among the attendees were members of CROSH’s advisory board, including chair Leo Gerard, international president of the United Steelworkers and one of the event’s speakers. Members of Vale Canada Limited, one of CROSH’s partners, were also there, Dr. Larivière said.

“There’s quite a few of us who do occupational health and safety-related research, but we’ve never had a home of our own,” Dr. Larivière told COHSN. “We were working in relative isolation. So now that we have an actual space that allows us to meet and interact and collaborate, it’s a lot easier.”

Up until the venue opening, CROSH members had been working in their own individual labs. “We were running our own projects and studies,” added Dr. Larivière. “So we were still able to do our research, but in whatever space we could find.”

Another advantage of the new facility is its size, which allows room for a lot of equipment as well as students. The venue includes study areas, offices and boardroom-style meeting spaces.

“It’s large enough that we can use mobile equipment in and out of there fairly readily,” said Dr. Larivière.

Founded in 2008, CROSH is an interdisciplinary group that conducts research and seeks innovation in many areas of occupational health and safety, particularly issues concerning Northern Ontario-based industries like mining, natural resources, pulp and paper, healthcare and government services.

“Our niche is going to be a lot of Northern Ontario, and maybe even rural areas, places where maybe less research has happened,” explained Dr. Larivière. “But certainly, our goal is to have international influence.

“Our contributions hopefully will extend far, far beyond the north of Ontario and even Canada.”

Among the areas in which CROSH plans to conduct research at its new facility are physiology, ergonomics, epidemiology, sleep studies, human-vibration studies and mental health.

Other members of CROSH’s advisory board include former Sudbury mayor Marianne Matichuk, Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers ergonomist Trevor Schell, Health Sciences North corporate safety specialist Natalie Carscadden, Sudbury Labour District Council president Jamie West and representatives of the Ontario Nurses’ Association, Workplace Safety North and the provincial Ministry of Labour.

“It’s really a great cross-section,” said Dr. Larivière.

“The whole thing is driven by this idea,” he added, “that the well-being of workers from any line of work might benefit from our research in terms of their own health and well-being.”

According to CROSH’s website, Laurentian established the organization to allow industry, government, labour groups, researchers and associations for safe workplaces to interact and share problems and solutions regarding occupational health and safety.

“We envision a Northern Ontario where workplaces join together to ensure that every worker gets home safe and healthy every day,” read information on CROSH’s site.