The Foundation is a registered charity established in 1978 with a gift of Colt shares from the O'Hea family. In its first 35 years of operation it has awarded more than £14 m in grants to over 200 projects and supported over 220 students studying some aspect of occupational health.
The work of the Foundation is a reflection of the values of Colt's founder, Jack O'Hea: the importance of people, and investing in their well-being and development. These are also the values that informed the way he ran his business, and Colt has remained true to them to this day. In fact, it is at the core of what the company does: improving people's living and working conditions.
Visit the Colt Foundation Website for further information.
Health of Miners at High Altitudes in the Andes
Although mining at high altitude is a high risk occupation, it is also a hugely important economic activity in South America, and this proposal aims to improve the physical and mental condition of all those miners labouring at high altitudes. A new project based at the University of Oxford which started in January 2012 looks at translating recent advances in human physiology and genetics into improvements in health of miners at high altitudes in the Andes.
Assessing the Severity of Colour Vision Loss in Occupational Environments
There is increasing concern with the minimum colour vision requirements that have been set within visually demanding, occupational environments, and the reliable assessment of human colour vision is becoming increasingly important. A team at City University London has been awarded a three year grant from October 2011 for research into an accurate assessment of colour vision loss, with an analysis of colour vision certification requirements for Air Traffic Controllers, and current colour vision standards for seafarers. They are collaborating with the Civil Aviation Authority in the UK and also with the Maritime Coastguard Agency.
Ageing Population in the Workplace
The UK population is ageing and a smaller workforce will be supporting more elderly people in their retirement, unless a larger proportion of the population is able to remain in employment until an older age. Poor lung function is manifest most commonly by breathlessness on exertion, and until recently there has been almost no research on the relationship between lung function and the ability to remain in employment or work effectively. The Foundation therefore agreed to support a study at the National Heart and Lung Institute at Imperial College entitled "Does FEV1 (Forced Expiratory Volume in the first second) predict capacity to work in an ageing population".
Skin Disease in the Workplace
Occupational skin disease is common, particularly in occupations such as chemical operatives, hairdressers, printers, beauticians, engineering labourers or ceramic makers. Since 2007 the Foundation has been funding a study aimed at developing and validating a toolkit for occupational skin surveillance in the workplace. The toolkit will obtain photographic images and these digital photos will then be assessed by dermatologists remotely for signs of occupational hand dermatitis. The advantages of this teledermatology system will be a standardised skin surveillance system of outstanding quality, providing a cost-effective surveillance solution utilising expert input, which is particularly helpful for small and medium sized companies without access to an occupational health service.
Visit the Colt Foundation Website.
The Foundation has for several years been supporting research into the health effects of toxic particles and fibres, including lung disease and the effects of fine and ultrafine particles, and also cutting edge research into a new discipline of particle toxicology - namely nanotoxicology. Professor Ken Donaldson has been appointed a Colt Professorial Fellow at the University of Edinburgh, where he is leading the study of the potential of nanoparticles and nanotubes, which are a new form of manufactured carbon fibre. Nanoparticles are increasingly present in manufactured products, including sporting goods, electronics, composites, cosmetics and sunscreens, as well as an increasing host of manufacturing processes. There is increasing worry that widespread use of these fibres may lead to health effects in exposed workers, similar to that seen with asbestos. The Colt Foundation is a leader in supporting research in nanotoxicology, the majority of it focused in Edinburgh and led by Professor Donaldson, Dr Rodger Duffin, Dr Craig Poland, Professor Vicki Stone and Dr David Brown.
Nanotubes interacting with mesothelial cells
The cytoskeleton of a cell interacting with long carbon nanotubes
The cytoskeleton of a cell which has taken up PM10 air pollution particles
Asthma in Ashford Project
The Foundation's longest commitment has been to the Asthma in Ashford project, which started in 1993. The project followed a group of 630 children from pre-birth up to the age of 8 years old, to investigate the causes of childhood allergy and asthma with the aim of discovering why the latter is becoming more common. The children are now in their teens, and are still being monitored by the study team.
The study has resulted in similar projects running in Barcelona, Menorca and Munich. It will be possible to make comparisons with the Ashford study under different environmental conditions.