Research has documented that transit workers experience significant health problems in large part as a result of the physical demands of vehicle operation, work environment, work schedules, the sedentary nature of some jobs, and general constraints on healthy behavior. The results can affect the bottom line of transit agency budgets through increased absenteeism, early retirement, health care costs, and difficulty in attracting and retaining new employees. Inadequate access to, or problems with, fragmented health care may exacerbate these problems.
From a health management perspective, conditions often progress undetected and may not be routinely monitored. These broader health issues can also affect the transit professionals’ well-being and their ability to sustain required professional credentials. In addition, these problems may impede their safe performance of essential job functions.
Loss of well-trained employees, absenteeism, worker's compensation claims, health care costs, and risk management expenses are just a few of the adverse outcomes that can translate into transit agency as well as individual and societal costs. Improving the health and safety of the transit workforce and keeping quality employees on the job longer promises to be a source of cost savings.
The objectives of this research are to
1. Define and quantify the health and safety issues facing public transit workers. These include, but are not limited to, behaviors that affect health and safety (sleep, exercise, diet, smoking, seat belt use, alcohol use), chronic diseases (diabetes, cardio-vascular disease, hearing loss), communicable diseases, labor environment, organizational issues (safety climate, organizational programs, policies and procedures, support at work), organization of work (shiftwork, job discretion, job demands), and access to health-promoting activities and healthcare;
2. Using existing information resources, estimate the costs associated with employee health issues; and characterize to the degree possible how these costs are distributed to individuals, transit agencies, and society;
3. Identify and describe scalable and sustainable strategies successfully implemented in transit agencies; and
4. Identify and evaluate potential methods for measuring cost-benefits and cost-effectiveness of these programs to individuals, transit agencies, and society.
In meeting these objectives, the research will identify ways to improve employee health outcomes resulting from work conditions and broader health promotion practices. Building on existing research and available resources in this field, the products of this research will include proposed procedural strategies to help transit agencies implement and monitor programs and policies, and tools to measure resulting cost savings and other benefits.
Note: Techniques for quantifying rates of and costs associated with transit employee illnesses, physical impairments, injuries, and other health-related concerns should rely on available national and state databases, industry health fund information, and actuarial data.
Proposers are asked to present a detailed research plan for accomplishing the project objectives. Proposers are expected to describe research plans that can realistically be accomplished within the constraints of available funds and contract time, including an indication of how proposed research will make use of and build on available resources. Proposals must present the proposer’s current thinking in sufficient detail to demonstrate their understanding of the issues and the soundness of their approach to meeting the research objectives.
At a minimum, in response to the stated objectives, the research plan should address the following tasks:
1. Identify the scope and scale of transit worker health issues and related safety concerns.
a. What are the health issues and what factors contribute to those issues?
b. How are these health issues and contributing factors identified, either currently or potentially, and what metrics are used to measure their impact on transit employee service?
c. What costs are associated with these issues?
d. How is the financial burden distributed among individuals, transit agencies, and society at large?
2. Identify and describe current approaches and possible solutions to specific health and safety problems affecting transit employees.
a. What are the existing approaches?
b. Where and how are they used?
c. What resources are involved?
d. What is the impact on health and related safety issues (for example, vehicle accidents)?
e. What methods are you proposing to gather this information?
3. Identify tools and techniques for measuring program costs, benefits, and effectiveness.
a. Who benefits and who pays?
b. What are the costs and how are they measured?
c. What are the benefits and how are they measured?
d. What is effectiveness and how is it measured?
4. Identify transit agency requirements—opportunities and constraints, both internal and external—for implementing potential solutions and tools.
a. What barriers exist to implementing the study products?
b. What steps are proposed to lessen or overcome these barriers?
c. What incentives exist for using study products?
d. What tools and techniques are available to support allocation of funds and implementation of necessary improvements?
e. What are the next steps building on this research?
The research plan should be divided into two phases, and each phase should be divided into tasks with a detailed description of the work proposed. The research plan should build in appropriate interim deliverables that include, at a minimum, a detailed annotated outline of the resources forming the basis of the research, and an interim report at the end of Phase I that describes work done in early tasks and provides an updated work plan for the remaining tasks to be accomplished in Phase II. Phase I should reflect approximately 30% to 50% of the overall scope of work and should address the initial and fundamental tasks contributing to the overall study outcome. The TCRP panel will meet with the research team at the end of Phase I to review and approve the interim report prior to moving on to Phase II.
Final deliverables will include at a minimum: (1) the products specified above (metrics, tools, strategies); (2) a final report that documents the entire research effort; (3) an executive summary as a stand-alone document that outlines the research findings and recommendations; and (4) a presentation (e.g., a Microsoft® PowerPoint, video, etc.) aimed at decision makers that simply and concisely explains why the application of the final deliverables is helpful and how it will be used. Final deliverables will also include a stand-alone technical memorandum entitled, “Implementation of Research Findings and Products.” See Special Note D.
The research plan should build in appropriate checkpoints with the TCRP project panel including, at a minimum, (1) a kick-off teleconference meeting to be held within 1 month of the contract’s execution date; (2) the face-to-face interim deliverable review meeting to be held at the end of Phase I; and (3) at least two additional web-enabled teleconferences tied to TCRP panel review and approval of any other interim deliverables as deemed appropriate.
A. Proposals are evaluated by the TCRP staff and project panels consisting of individuals collectively very knowledgeable in the problem area. Selection of an agency is made by the project panel considering the following factors: (1) the proposer's demonstrated understanding of the problem; (2) the merit of the proposed research approach and study design; (3) the experience, qualifications, and objectivity of the research team in the same or closely related problem areas; (4) the plan for ensuring application of results; (5) the proposer's plan for participation by Disadvantaged Business Enterprises--small firms owned and controlled by minorities or women; and (6) the adequacy of the facilities.
Note: The proposer's plan for participation by Disadvantaged Business Enterprises should be incorporated in Item 12 of the proposal.
B. Proposals should include a task-by-task breakdown of labor hours for each staff member as shown in Figure 4 in the brochure, Information and Instructions for Preparing Proposals. Proposals also should include a breakdown of all costs (e.g., wages, indirect costs, travel, materials, and total) for each task using Figures 5 and 6 in the brochure. Please note that TRB Cooperative Research Program subawards (selected proposers are considered subawards to the National Academy of Sciences, the parent organization of TRB) must comply with 2 CFR 200 – Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards. These requirements include a provision that proposers without a “federally” Negotiated Indirect Costs Rate Agreement (NICRA) shall be subject to a maximum allowable indirect rate of 10% of Modified Total Direct Costs. Modified Total Direct Costs include all salaries and wages, applicable fringe benefits, materials and supplies, services, travel, and up to the first $25,000 of each lower-tier subaward and subcontract. Modified Total Direct Costs exclude equipment, capital expenditures, charges for patient care, rental costs, tuition remission, scholarships and fellowships, participant support costs and the portion of each lower-tier subaward and subcontract in excess of $25,000.
C. Item 4(c), "Anticipated Research Results," in each proposal must include an Implementation Plan that describes activities to promote application of the product of this research. It is expected that the implementation plan will evolve during the project; however, proposals must describe, as a minimum, the following: (a) the "product" expected from the research, (b) the audience or "market" for this product, (c) a realistic assessment of impediments to successful implementation, (d) the institutions and individuals who might take leadership in applying the research product, (e) the activities necessary for successful implementation, and (f) the criteria for judging the progress and consequences of implementation.
D. The required technical memorandum titled “Implementation of Research Findings and Products” should (a) provide recommendations on how to best put the research findings/products into practice; (b) identify possible institutions that might take leadership in applying the research findings/products; (c) identify issues affecting potential implementation of the findings/products and recommend possible actions to address these issues; and (d) recommend methods of identifying and measuring the impacts associated with implementation of the findings/products. Implementation of these recommendations is not part of the research project and, if warranted, details of these actions will be developed and implemented in future efforts.
E. Item 5 in the proposal, "Qualifications of the Research Team," must include a section labeled "Disclosure." Information relevant to the TCRP's need to ensure objectivity and to be aware of possible sources of significant financial or organizational conflict of interest in conducting the research must be presented in this section of the proposal. For example, under certain conditions, ownership of the proposing agency, other organizational relationships, or proprietary rights and interests could be perceived as jeopardizing an objective approach to the research effort, and proposers are asked to disclose any such circumstances and to explain how they will be accounted for in this study. If there are no issues related to objectivity, this should be stated.
F. Copyrights - All data, written materials, computer software, graphic and photographic images, and other information prepared under the contract and the copyrights therein shall be owned by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The contractor and subcontractors will be able to publish this material for non-commercial purposes, for internal use, or to further academic research or studies with permission from TRB Cooperative Research Programs. The contractor and subcontractors will not be allowed to sell the project material without prior approval by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. By signing a contract with the National Academy of Sciences, contractors accept legal responsibility for any copyright infringement that may exist in work done for TRB. Contractors are therefore responsible for obtaining all necessary permissions for use of copyrighted material in TRB’s Cooperative Research Programs publications. For guidance on TRB’s policies on using copyrighted material please consult Section 5.4, “Use of Copyrighted Material,” in the Procedural Manual for Contractors.