Background Action research (AR) holds promise as a method to improve occupational health and safety. Methods This case study explores the challenges and accomplishments during the first 6 months of an AR occupational health and safety committee at a manufacturing facility. Results Critical steps in the formative phase of the AR project included: (1) addressing differing power levels and perceived ownership of management and production committee members; (2) developing a collaborative approach to communication and problem solving; and (3) transitioning from dependence on university leadership to shared leadership among the committee. Conclusions AR can lead to greater empowerment to address occupational health and safety issues, and to improved dialoge between labor and management. AR can increase the likelihood that the problem will be understood, and effective solutions will be developed and their application supported and used throughout the organization. Am. J. Ind. Med. 52:614–624, 2009. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc
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