Campus: San Diego -- June 2, 2006

SDSU Home to "One-Stop Shop" for Safety Information

It's a priority for Eric Wigglesworth, Honorary Senior Research Fellow at the Monash University Accident Research Centre. Week in and week out, from halfway across the globe in Melbourne, Australia, Wigglesworth scours the information on San Diego State University's SafetyLit Web site.

The National Safety Council proclaims June as "National Safety Month," and as Americans take a closer look at the safety risks they face on a daily basis, SDSU's SafetyLit Web site is just the place to go.

SafetyLit is considered by many safety professionals to be the ultimate source for information about recently published research about preventing accidents, suicide, and violence. It is the brainchild of David Lawrence, director of SDSU's Center for Injury Prevention & Policy within the Graduate School of Public Health. Lawrence and his small group of staff and volunteers search more than 2,600 scholarly journals from 35 professional disciplines, conference proceedings and government reports worldwide for articles relating to safety and injury prevention. Each week more than 100 reports are summarized and posted to the SafetyLit Web site.

Their findings are collected in the weekly email update and distributed free of charge to more than 24,000 safety professionals and researchers in 186 countries around the world.

Wigglesworth says without SafetyLit, it would take him hours to scan the voluminous field of information on his own.

"The information I need might be in any of the several injury-related journals that are now published, plus all the multitudinous journals covering the various sciences between anthropology and zoology," Wigglesworth says. "Without SafetyLit I would hardly have time for research."

In addition to the thousands of researchers, typical SafetyLit users include traffic engineers and planners, public health officials, occupational safety professionals, violence/suicide prevention professionals, professors and insurance workers. Several hundred subscribers are from branches of the armed forces and the federal Department of Homeland Security.

For Wigglesworth, the information he's discovered on SafetyLit has been an integral part of his work. A leading researcher in the field of occupational safety, Wigglesworth has been compiling a 20-year study detailing occupational injuries by hour of day and day of week.

"In the old days, I would have gone to the university library and spent many hours or days searching for the information I needed," says Wigglesworth. "Instead, I went home and went to SafetyLit, and in 20 minutes flat, I found an American scientist who shared my views."

When the site first took to the Web in 2000, it served only local faculty as a research tool. Today, Lawrence says he doesn't mind the many man-hours it takes to keep pace with the demands of a site that serves so many.

"If it helps others in their mission to make people safer, it's worth it," says Lawrence. "SafetyLit is an obsession of mine, professionally and personally. I've always been interested in safety and injury prevention issues."

That interest intensified in 1973, when Lawrence was in a very serious auto accident in North Carolina.

"I was in a Volkswagen and a seatbelt saved my life," he said. "Since then, I have been fascinated by efforts to improve safety and reduce injuries."

But Lawrence says the Web site reaches farther than safety scholars and professionals. He says the public can use a site like this to make educated decisions.

"A lot of times, people follow their instincts or a company's marketing image and don't collect evidence before making safety-related decisions, such as the safer car to buy or what type of lawn mower or baby crib or child restraint seat to use." says Lawrence. "But there's a lot of information out there and people don't need to take risks without being informed."

To learn more about SafetyLit and to sign up for the weekly updates visit www.safetylit.org.

Contacts: Gina Speciale, (619) 594-4563 office; (619) 813-3581 cell, speciale@mail.sdsu.edu


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