Improving the Health and Safety of Transit Workers with Corresponding Impacts on the Bottom Line

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.


  • English


  • Status: Active
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project F-26

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Transit Cooperative Research Program

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC    20001

    Federal Transit Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Project Managers:

    Goldstein, Lawrence

  • Performing Organizations:

    Econometrica, Incorporated

    Bethesda, MD  United States 
  • Principal Investigators:

    Clogston, Frankie

  • Start Date: 20171116
  • Expected Completion Date: 20190514
  • Actual Completion Date: 0
  • Source Data: RiP Project 41372

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01622196
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project F-26
  • Files: TRB, RiP
  • Created Date: Jan 7 2017 1:00AM