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Cardiff Work Environment Research Centre

The Cardiff Work Environment Research Centre (CWERC) undertakes research on various aspects of the work environment and the regulation and governance of health and safety at work.

As well as being a centre of excellence for research, CWERC promotes research locally, nationally and internationally by undertaking specific research projects and disseminating results through seminars, workshops, conferences and publications. We are currently involved in a number of international research projects focused on health, safety and welfare in various occupational settings, all of which are multi-disciplinary, involve collaboration with researchers at other institutions from around the world and follow a mixed-methods approach.

Stakeholders

CWERC carries out applied, policy orientated research that has been of interest to regulators, policy makers and social partners in the countries on which it has focused as well as at European Union and global levels. This has included, for example:

European Commission

  • European Agency for Occupational Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA)
  • International Labour Organization (ILO)
  • European Trade Union Institute (ETUI)
  • International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF)
  • Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU)
  • Health and Safety Executive (HSE)
  • Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH)

In addition, CWERC has provided expertise and consultation services to various bodies and inquiries, including: the Royal Commission inquiry into the Pike River tragedy in New Zealand; and the Health and Safety Executive’s review of the underlying causes of construction fatal accidents.

Collaboration

CWERC carries out research both independently and in partnership with colleagues from a range of institutions within the UK and further afield. Recently, these have included, among others:

  • HIVA, the Research Institute for Work and Society at KU Leuven, Belgium
  • Tallinn University of Technology, Estonia
  • ELINYAE, the Hellenic Institute for Occupational Health and Safety, Greece
  • University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands
  • University of Valencia, Spain
  • IVL the Swedish Environmental Research Institute, Sweden
  • Aalborg University, Denmark;
  • Kooperationsstelle Hamburg IFE, Germany
  • Politecnico di Milano, Italy
  • National Research and Development Institute of Occupational Safety, France
  • ISTAS (Union Institute of Work, Environment and Health), Spain
  • University of New South Wales, Australia
  • University of Ottawa, Canada
  • Queensland University of Technology, Australia
  • Middlesex University, UK
  • Southampton Solent University, UK
  • Ipsos MORI, UK
  • Solidarnosc, Poland
  • Fondazione Giuseppe Di Vittorio, Italy
  • CIOP-PIB, Poland

Current projects

SESAME

The SESAME Project, which is funded by the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA), focuses on occupational health and safety (OHS) in micro and small enterprises (MSEs) in Europe. Its aims are to provide support for evidence-based policy recommendations, and facilitate the development of new or existing practical tools through identifying key success factors in terms of policies, strategies and practical solutions, to improve OSH in MSEs in Europe. The work is being carried out by a consortium of 9 research teams, led by HIVA, the Research Institute for Work and Society at KU Leuven in Belgium. It comprises four phases:

  • a literature review concerning the nature of micro and small firms and their role in the EU economy, measures of the known extent of mortality and morbidity associated with work in them and the arrangements made in these enterprises to prevent this harm to their workers, while taking proper account of the structural, economic and political contexts in which this occurs in the Member States of the EU
  • new qualitative data collection in micro and small enterprises in 9 Member States aimed at capturing the ‘view from the workplace’ through the experiences of both workers and managers
  • consideration of the policies, supports and strategies in place in relation to improving OHS in MSEs through interviews with key stakeholders in 9 Member States
  • and the overarching final report drawing together the key findings from each stage of the project.

CWERC led on the first of these phases, which is now complete and its final report.

Contexts and arrangements for occupational safety and health in micro and small enterprises in the EU – SESAME Project.

Regulating and managing risks in coal mines: an evaluation of global practice

The Regulating and managing risks in coal mines: an evaluation of global practice, is funded by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH). Its focus is the role of worker representation in arrangements for occupational health and safety (OHS) management in coal mines, and how this is supported or constrained locally, nationally and globally. A particular focus for the research in this respect concerns the experience and strategies of trade unions and their representatives in promoting the role of workers’ voice in OHS. In addition to a literature review and interviews with key informants at the global and national levels, the project involves comparative case studies in major coal producing countries representing a range of economic development.

Trade unions preventive agents

The Trade unions preventive agents project is led by ISTAS (Union Institute of Work, Environment and Health) in Spain and funded by the European Commission. Research teams in five countries (Italy, Poland, Spain, Sweden and the UK) are carrying out both a literature review and interviews with key informants to explore how trade unions support worker representation on occupational health and safety (OHS) in micro and small firms. Following this, each team will carry out up to three comparative case studies of trade union approaches.

Management of occupational safety and health in European workplaces – evidence from the Second European Survey of Enterprises on New and Emerging Risks (ESENER-2)

This project, which is funded by the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA), aims to contribute to an evidence base to help policy makers in their decisions about the best use of limited resources in relation to support for the prevention of health and safety risks. It comprises: o a secondary analysis of EU-OHSA’s most recent European Survey of Enterprises on New and Emerging Risks (ESENER-2), focused on health and safety management and the factors associated with its effectiveness; o and a literature review and consultation with key experts to contextualise the quantitative findings in relation to the broader knowledge base.

A research protocol for understanding the determinants of arrangements and outcomes of occupational safety and health and their contexts in global supply chains.

This project, funded by the International Labour Organization (ILO), is being carried out in partnership with another research team. Its objectives are to contribute to the development of a model research methodology which will enable the identification of drivers and bottlenecks to the improvement of occupational health and safety (OHS) in agriculture global supply chains (GSCs), with particular emphasis on the first level of production of the GSCs, which takes place in a developing country. The research methodology is intended to allow better understanding of where the deficits and good practices are in terms of OHS, what drives them and which could be the incentives and potential for sustainable change (i.e. possible intervention models). The research method will be tested and refined in relation to a global product supply chain in one country but will have in mind its generalizability to others.

Recent projects

CWERC has carried out two European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) funded projects focused on worker representation:

The most recent, Worker participation in the management of occupational safety and health – qualitative evidence from the Second European Survey of Enterprises on New and Emerging Risks (ESENER-2), was carried out by a CWERC-led consortium of 7 research teams. Its focus was the representation of workers’ interests in safety and health as experienced by the representatives themselves, by their fellow workers and by their employers and managers. It involved in-depth interviews with participants in 143 different establishments of various sizes, across 7 EU Member States (Belgium, Estonia, Greece, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom) representing a range of different regulatory and industrial relations contexts. The majority of the interviewees were selected from the population of respondents who had participated in the second European Survey of Enterprises on New and Emerging Risks (ESENER-2). Their analysis was supported by a review of the literature and a quantitative analysis of relevant ESENER-2 data.

The earlier project, Worker representation and consultation on health and safety: An analysis of the findings of the European Survey of Enterprises on New and Emerging Risks (ESENER), involved a secondary analysis of the first European Survey of Enterprises on New and Emerging Risks (ESENER) data concerning the representation of workers in arrangements for health and safety management and investigated the relationship between the effectiveness of health and safety management measures within enterprises and the involvement of employee representatives in these measures.

CWERC has also carried out two projects focused on container terminals:

The first, Managing the health and safety of workers in globalised container terminals: A preliminary study of the experience of health and safety arrangements and outcomes in container terminals operated by Global Network Terminal Operators, was funded by the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF). This study considered the arrangements for managing health and safety in container terminals operated by global network terminal (GNT) operating companies. The project involved a global scoping study of the experiences and concerns of unionised dockworkers in relation to container terminals operated by GNTs, and case studies of six container terminals, four in Europe and two in Asia, in which arrangements for health and safety and the experiences of dockworkers were studied in greater detail.

The most recent, Experiences of arrangements for health, safety and welfare in the global container terminal industry, which was jointly funded by International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) and Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), built on and extended the earlier study. In addition to a review of the research literature on health and safety arrangements in container terminals and the regulatory provisions and economic and labour relations contexts in which the terminals we studied were situated, this involved:

  • Assessment and comparison of the OSH performance data of 3 global network terminal (GNT) operating companies
  • Interviews with the managers responsible for OSH at the corporate level in these GNTs
  • Case studies in 11 container terminals in 4 countries operated by 6 companies (4 GNTs and 2 national operators). These included interviews with terminal managers and workers, questionnaire surveys of workers and, in some instances, diary surveys of workers
  • Overall, the dataset analysed for the project comprised: 1849 dockworkers’ questionnaires, 120 dockworkers’ diaries and 178 interviews with workers and managers

CWERC’s Study of the role of workers’ representatives in health and safety arrangements in coal mines in Queensland was funded by the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) Mining and Energy Division. In addition to an extensive review of the literature, the project:

  • Considered evidence of the activities of worker representatives as documented in mines reports written by the representatives themselves (at the mine and industry levels) and government inspectors
  • Included interviews with mine and industry level health and safety representatives and a senior mines inspector.

The NERCLIS Project

Contract to assess the potential impact of emerging trends and risks on labour inspection methodologies in the domain of occupational health and safety, was funded by the European Commission. The research was carried out by a CWERC-led consortium of four research teams. The project was undertaken in two Stages:

Stage 1 defined what we understand by ‘emerging trends and risks’, undertook a review of their occurrence in EU Member States and examined the evidence of their impact on labour inspection. It was an overview of the situation that was based on published evidence and supplemented with interviews with key informants. It also identified several aspects of labour inspection response that we considered worthwhile following up in greater detail in Stage 2 of the project.

In this second stage, studied three areas that we felt would be practicable and useful within the time and resource constraints of the project. These were:

  • strategies of labour inspectorates to achieve and co-ordinate greater engagement from stakeholders in health and safety in the ‘new economy’
  • the selection and training of inspectors in the light of the challenges posed by emergent risks and trends
  • the challenge of inspecting health and safety issues in relation to undeclared work.

The countries in which we investigated these areas were: Cyprus, Germany, Greece, Latvia, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Spain, Sweden and the UK.

Two recent projects funded by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), focused on the role of supply chains in influencing health and safety management:

The first, Understanding the role of supply chains in influencing health and safety at work, which was carried out in partnership with another research team, involved a review of the literature on the role of supply chains in influencing health and safety management and regulation.

The second, The Limits of Influence: The role of supply chains in influencing health and safety management in two sectors, which was also carried out in partnership, was a qualitative study comparing the role of supply chains in influencing health and safety management in the construction and shipping sectors.

Lead researcher

Professor David Walters

Professor David Walters

Professor of Work Environment & Director of Cardiff Work Environment Research Centre (CWERC)

Email:
waltersd@cardiff.ac.uk
Telephone:
+44 29208 70013

Academic staff

Dr Emma Wadsworth

Dr Emma Wadsworth

Research Fellow, CWERC

Email:
wadsworthej@cardiff.ac.uk
Telephone:
+44 (0)29 2087 5123

Associated staff

Mel Evans

Mel Evans

Research Project Co-ordinator

Email:
evansm6@cardiff.ac.uk
Telephone:
+44 (0)29 2087 5389