Workers as research subjects: a vulnerable population.
Workers should be considered as a vulnerable human subjects research population since they require special protections. The Code of Federal Regulations "Common Rule for the Protection of Human Subjects in Research" does not offer adequate definition of this issue. Currently there is no formal ethical framework that addresses the unique vulnerability of workers (or former workers) who participate in research studies. This article addresses this concern and is based on a larger report published by the U.S. Department of Energy. Further, even though workers may be study subjects for legitimate political, social, and scientific reasons, meritorious science and adherence to the Common Rule must be the expectation.