Sample Business Research Paper on Sun Coast Remediation Project

Introduction

Senior leadership at Sun Coast has identified several areas for concern that they believe could be solved using business research methods. The previous director was tasked with conducting research to help provide information to make decisions about these issues. Although data were collected, the project was never completed. Senior leadership is interested in seeing the project through to fruition. The following is the completion of that project and includes the statement of the problems, literature review, research objectives, research questions and hypotheses, research methodology, design, and methods, data analysis, findings, and recommendations.

Statement of the Problems

Six business problems were identified:

Particulate Matter (PM)

There is a concern that job-site particle pollution is adversely impacting employee health. Although respirators are required in certain environments, PM varies in size depending on the project and job site. PM that is between 10 and 2.5 microns can float in the air for minutes to hours (e.g., asbestos, mold spores, pollen, cement dust, fly ash), while PM that is less than 2.5 microns can float in the air for hours to weeks (e.g. bacteria, viruses, oil smoke, smog, soot). Due to the smaller size of PM that is less than 2.5 microns, it is potentially more harmful than PM that is between 10 and 2.5 since the conditions are more suitable for inhalation. PM that is less than 2.5 is also able to be inhaled into the deeper regions of the lungs, potentially causing more deleterious health effects. It would be helpful to understand if there is a relationship between PM size and employee health. PM air quality data have been collected from 103 job sites, which is recorded in microns. Data are also available for average annual sick days per employee per job-site.

Safety Training Effectiveness

Health and safety training is conducted for each new contract that is awarded to Sun Coast. Data for training expenditures and lost-time hours were collected from 223 contracts. It would be valuable to know if training has been successful in reducing lost-time hours and, if so, how to predict lost-time hours from training expenditures.

Sound-Level Exposure

Sun Coast’s contracts generally involve work in noisy environments due to a variety of heavy equipment being used for both remediation and the clients’ ongoing operations on the job sites. Standard ear-plugs are adequate to protect employee hearing if the decibel levels are less than 120 decibels (dB). For environments with noise levels exceeding 120 dB, more advanced and expensive hearing protection is required, such as earmuffs. Historical data have been collected from 1,503 contracts for several variables that are believed to contribute to excessive dB levels. It would be important if these data could be used to predict the dB levels of work environments before placing employees on-site for future contracts. This would help the safety department plan for procurement of appropriate ear protection for employees.

New Employee Training

All new Sun Coast employees participate in general health and safety training. The training program was revamped and implemented six months ago. Upon completion of the training programs, the employees are tested on their knowledge. Test data are available for two groups: Group A employees who participated in the prior training program and Group B employees who participated in the revised training program. It is necessary to know if the revised training program is more effective than the prior training program.

Lead Exposure

Employees working on job sites to remediate lead must be monitored. Lead levels in blood are measured as micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood (μg/dL). A baseline blood test is taken pre-exposure and post exposure at the conclusion of the remediation. Data are available for 49 employees who recently concluded a 2-year lead remediation project. It is necessary to determine if blood lead levels have increased.

Return on Investment

Sun Coast offers four lines of service to their customers, including air monitoring, soil remediation, water reclamation, and health and safety training. Sun Coast would like to know if each line of service offers the same return on investment. Return on investment data are available for air monitoring, soil remediation, water reclamation, and health and safety training projects. If return on investment is not the same for all lines of service, it would be helpful to know where differences exist.

 

Literature Review

A large percentage of Sun Coast contracts involve working in areas contaminated with various substances. Numerous variables place the health and safety of workers at risk. Various studies have focused on the same issues as those affecting Sun Coast. Research by Boin, Colin, Grzebyk (2016) aimed at understanding the effect of training on occupational health and safety on workplace injuries among young workers beginning their careers.  The authors hypothesized that young individuals who receive education on occupation and health training would experience fewer cases of workplace injuries. The research included learners at the end of their education and the start of their careers.  The study presented all descriptive statistics as either standard deviation or mean for continuous variables. The incident rate ratio (IRR) was used to interpret the parameters of the model.  Boin, Colin, Grzebyk (2016) concluded that in France education on occupational health and safety was useful in reducing cases of workplace injuries. Boin, Colin, Grzebyk (2016) offer an important framework for researchers interested in the issue of workplace safety. The authors highlight the need for organizations like Sun Coast to provide education and training to their employees on workplace safety and how to deal with various risks in the workplace. Training and education will equip employees at Sun Cost with the knowledge and skills required to manage potential risks and challenges in the workplace.

In another research, Ceballos, Gong, and Page (2015), surveyed a randomly chosen sample of e-scrap recycling facilities in the United States to define workplace exposures, processes, and controls.  While the researchers had targeted 278 facilities nationwide, only 47 participated in the research with nearly all the facilities reporting the recycling of electronics.  This study identifies workplace health and safety issues affecting employees and measures initiated by organizations in dealing with these elements. While it is not possible to generalize the findings to the entire population in the country, the study offers informative guidelines on safety and health programs in organizations. This information is useful for an organization like the Sun Coast, which faces similar challenges reported by some of the organizations in the study. Ceballos, Gong, and Page (2015) highlight the need for organizations like Sun Coast to educate employees on best practices in occupational health and safety, especially in handling objects that pose significant risks to their lives.  The study provides an effective framework to approach the issue at Sun Coast.  It highlights challenges organizations implementing safety measures experience and offers insight into how Sun Coast can overcome these challenges.

In a theoretical and empirical investigation, Wachter and Yorio (2014) investigated safety management practices and strategies for reducing workplace accidents in organizations.  The overall research goal was to empirically and theoretically develop ideas around safety management practices in organizations and explore how various practices work to create a positive environment in organizations. Researchers collected data using supervisors, safety managers and employee surveys aimed at assessing and linking safety management practices to safety performance outcomes.  Using ANOVA analysis and statistical significance of p ≤ 0.05 in developing a causal link between the variables, Wachter and Yorio (2014) observed a significant negative link between safety management practices in an organization with accident rates.  The authors concluded that when organizations like Sun Coast invest in safety practices to protect the employees, it is essential to remain focused on winning the minds and hearts of the workers through performance-based systems aimed at enhancing worker engagement.  This study enriches the research with vital knowledge on the things Sun Coast should do or programs the organization needs to initiate when implementing measures aimed at protecting the employees against workplace risks. The study identifies some of the measures the organization can implement to protect workers from workplace hazards.

One of the major challenges facing researchers is how to garner evidence from studies. In a meta-analysis conducted by Combs, rook, and Rauch (2019), the authors observed that meta-analysis has emerged as a widely useful technique for researchers to develop a deep understanding of an issue.  While focusing on various approaches to meta-analysis, including the meta-analytic structural equation modeling (MASEM) the authors develop effective framework researchers can use to develop insight about a phenomenon under investigation. The study by Combs et al. (2019) has a huge impact on future studies.  The authors note that one of the common methodological changes facing meta-analysis is the failure of many researchers to report the causal link or relationships between variables.  Combs et al. (2019) provide vital guidelines required in collecting the most useful material and research in developing a critical analysis of the situation at Sun Coast and fulfilling the project.  Besides, Creswell and Creswell (2017) offers an effective framework for approaching quantitative research.  The authors note that utilizing various approaches can help researchers develop a wider scope of the phenomenon under investigation. The studies by Creswell and Creswell (2017) and Combs et al. (2019) offer an insightful framework for approaching the problem facing the Sun Coast. The authors identify research approaches and data analysis tools researchers can adopt when conducting quantitative research.

Research Objectives

Introduction

Organizations aim to protect their staff from workplace injuries and by taking several approaches that ensure the firm operates at maximum potential. Employees are the backbone of efficient service production and customer handling (Ceballos, Gong, & Page, 2015). When employees are healthy and assured of their safety within an organization, they obtain the psychological peace that motivates them to remain productive at their level best (Bayram, 2019). A substantial proportion of Sun Coast employees work in areas contaminated with various substances, exposing their health at risk. The high rate of injuries that forces Sun Coast employees to remain worried about their health problems is a significant problem. Boini, Colin, and Grzebyk (2016) outline the positive impacts of formal training on health and safety of employees. Wachter and Yorio (2014) also elucidate a strong relationship between safety management practices in an organization and accident rates, outlining that institutions with poor safety management have higher accident rates. Therefore, organizations like Sun Coast should invest in safety practices to protect the employees.

Research Problems

A major problem relies on the most appropriate ways to protect employees and win their confidence in the organization. Consequently, the following are the major research problems that Sun Coast must address.

RO1: Determine if health and safety training reduce workers’ injury rate.

RO2: Determine the impacts of particulate matter on employees’ health and productivity.

RO3: Determine the impacts of sound level exposure on the injury of employees.

RO4: Determine the impact of work environments on lead exposure of employees.

RO5: Determine the relationship between appropriate workplace safety management and employee’s attitude towards work.

RO6: Determine the impact of the return on investment of health and safety management through the inclusion of different factors.

Research Questions and Hypotheses

This section provides the major questions that the study aims to answer, and the hypothesis used to answer these questions. The research questions are as follows:

RQ1: Does a health and safety training program reduce employees’ injury rate at work?

H01: Health and safety training program do not reduce employees’ injuries at work.

HA1: Health and safety training program reduces employees’ injuries at work

RQ2: Determine the level of particulate matter affects employees’ health and productivity?

H02: Particulate matter levels do not affect the health of employees at work.

HA2: Particulate matter levels affect the health of employees at work.

RQ3: What is the impacts of sound level exposure on the injury rate of employees?

H03: Sound level exposure do not affect injury rates of employees.

HA3: Sound level exposure affect injury rates of employees.

RQ4: What is the impact of work environments on lead exposure of employees?

H04: Work environment does not affect lead exposure of employees.

HA4: Work environment does not affect lead exposure of employees.

RQ5: What is the overall impact of a firm’s workplace safety management on employees’ attitude towards work?

H05: A firm’s workplace safety management approach does not influence an employee’s attitude towards work.

HA5: A firm’s workplace safety management approach influences the employees’ attitude towards work.

RQ6: Does an organization’s approach to health and safety management impacts its return on investment?

H06: An organization’s health and safety management approach does not impact return on investment.

HA6: An organization’s health and safety management affects return on investment.

Research Methodology, Design, and Methods

Investigating the effectiveness of the health and safety training in reducing workers’ injury rate is of utmost urgency at Sun Coat Company. Therefore, this paper describes a research design and methodology employed in performing the investigation.

Research Methodology

The current research will employ a mixed-method research methodology. This methodology combines quantitative and qualitative research designs, enabling the collection of both numeric and textual data (Basias & Pollalis, 2018; Morse, 2016). The primary variables in this research are workers’ injury rates, health and safety training, employees’ attitudes towards work, and accident investigation process. The injury rate is a quantifiable element, requiring quantitative methodologies to collect and analyze its data. Data on the remaining variables will be mainly textual, requiring qualitative methods. Therefore, since both numeric and non-numeric data will be necessary for the successful completion of this research, a mixed-method methodology is the most appropriate.

Research Design

A descriptive research design is the most appropriate for this study. This design explains the impact of independent variables on the dependent ones by answering the ‘what’ questions, thereby enabling users of the established findings to make data-backed decisions (Gray, 2019). On the other hand, the exploratory design is most appropriate in studies where researchers lack in-depth understanding and definition of the central issues. In contrast, a causal model is relevant in studies where all the primary variables change (Ghauri et al., 2020). Since the primary goal of the current research is to explain the impact of OHS training on the safety consciousness of the employees, a descriptive design fits the requirements.

Research Methods

The research methods employed in a study must align with the research design. To respond effectively to the research questions and hypotheses formulated in this study, a blend of descriptive statistics and correlation methods will be appropriate. These two methods will apply to all the research questions, establishing correlations among the variables.

Data Collection Methods

Research questions and study designs guide the data collection techniques. Since a mixed study methodology is the most relevant for this study, both quantitative and qualitative methods will be critical for gathering data. To collect the necessary data, combining records analysis, surveys, observations, and questionnaire techniques will be vital.

Sampling Design

The research will employ random sampling to select the respondents. This type of sampling eliminates bias in data collection processes, thereby guaranteeing the validity and credibility of the obtained statistics (Aono & Nguyen, 2017). Nonetheless, the selected respondents must possess a minimum of five-month working experience in the organization. The employees with a shorter working spell at the company had to go through the current OHS training, while the cohort with three or more years was trained using the previous procedures. To compare the effectiveness of the two instructions, workers that experienced each of them must participate in the study. Therefore, there will be no cap for the upper limit of the working experience.

Data Analysis Procedures

The MAXQDA program is the preferred tool to test RQ3, RQ4, RQ5, and RQ6 because these questions focus on analyzing different non-numeric variables. Conversely, the t-test is the favorite analysis for RQ1 and RQ2. For these two questions, the researcher will collect numeric data about the effectiveness of training on injury rates. To compare the two types of OHS trainings implemented by the organization, the t-test will be the most appropriate.

Data Analysis: Descriptive Statistics and Assumption Testing

            The purpose of research projects is to understand the behavior of variables and make inferences based on the various attributes of the variables. While inferential analysis is the ultimate intention of the project, it is important to study the characteristics of variables regarding measures of central tendency, dispersion, variability, and symmetry regarding the normal distribution. This is because classical statistics require the normality assumption to be fulfilled before proceeding with the inferential analysis.

Correlation: Descriptive Statistics and Assumption Testing

Histogram

Below are the histograms of the microns and the average number of annual employee sick days.

Descriptive statistics table

  microns mean annual sick days per employee
Mean     5.6573                                                                  7.1262
Standard Error     0.2556                                                                  0.1865
Median 6 7
Mode 8 7
Standard Deviation 2.5941 1.8926
Sample Variance 6.7291 3.5820
Kurtosis -0.8522 0.1249
Skewness -0.3733 0.1422
Range 9.8 10
Minimum 0.2 2
Maximum 10 12
Sum 582.70 734
Count 103 103

Measurement scale

The two variables are measured on the continuous ratio scale since the various statistical measures can be obtained directly without manipulation of the initial form of the data.

The measure of central tendency

The measures of central tendency include the mode, mean, and median. The microns have a mean of 5.67 while the mode was eight and the median was 6. The mean and the median are close, but the median is about two units from the mean and the mode. However, the mean for the average number of annual sick leave days was 7.1 while the mode was seven and the median was also 7.

Evaluation

The microns are negatively skewed since the mean is less than both the mean and the median. This is also evident from the skewness value of -0.37. However, the distribution of the microns can be approximated using the normal distribution since the skewness lies between -1 and +1. Similarly, the average number of sick leave days can be approximated to the standard normal distribution. This is because the measures of central tendency are packed closely together. More so, the skewness value is small at 0.14, implying the positive skewness is negligible.

Simple Regression: Descriptive Statistics and Assumption Testing

Histogram

Descriptive statistics table.

  safety training expenditure lost time hours
Mean 595.984 188.004
Standard Error 31.477 4.803
Median 507.772 190
Mode 234 190
Standard Deviation 470.052 71.725
Sample Variance 220948.846 5144.536
Kurtosis 0.444 -0.501
Skewness 0.951 -0.082
Range 2251.404 350
Minimum 20.456 10
Maximum 2271.86 360
Sum 132904.517 41925
Count 223 223

 

Measurement scale

The two variables are measured on the continuous ratio scale since the various statistical measures can be obtained directly without manipulation of the initial form of the data.

The measure of central tendency

The mean of the safety training expenditure is $595.9, while the mode was $234, and the median was $507.77. This implies that most of the employees used about $234 on training, while a few others had values greater than that, leading to the large expenditure as shown by the mean and the median. This was also a possible pointer to outliers, which affect the validity of the data and analysis thereof. On the other hand, the mean of lost time was 188 hours, with a mode of 190 and a median of 190. These measures of central tendency are close together with the mean being slightly lower. Therefore, most of the employees or departments lose between 188 and 190 hours on average.

Evaluation

The skewness for the expenditure was significantly positive at 0.9, implying that the data is not normally distributed. However, being the independent variable in the simple regression model, its distribution is not a concern. The distribution of the dependent variable, the lost hours, was approximate to the standard normal distribution since the measures of central tendency are packed close together, and the skewness is negligible at –0.08. It, therefore, meets the parametric assumption for use as a dependent variable in the regression model without transformation.