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CONSTRUCTION

construction worker, crane, architect

Activities: NIOSH Research Projects

Harness Design and Sizing

This project will develop a whole-body, fall-arresting harness-sizing scheme and design that will better control the hazards during falls from elevations. Human size data will be used. These data were pulled from a database of U.S. workers and two controlled laboratory studies on harnesses fit to construction workers. Researchers will use three-dimensional anthropometry information to determine the sizing scheme and to develop torso/hip/thigh-strap assemblies and rigging components that best enhance the worker's ability to select and use the harness. The new harness systems will be validated for efficacy and will be introduced into the construction workplace. The research will help the construction industry to reduce the risk of injury that results from poor user fit, improper selection, and the failure to don the protective equipment properly.

Project Contact: Hongwei Hsiao
Division of Safety Research
304-285-5894

Electrical Injury Prevention System

This project is designing a new piece of safety equipment to protect electrical workers working around energized electrical circuits with or without proper ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) protection. The system monitors the strength of the electric field emitted from an electrical circuit to a worker or equipment to detect human/equipment proximity or electrical contact to the circuit. The system also monitors whether the primary and adjacent electrical circuits are de-energized. The completed system provides audible and visual alarms and will immediately trip the circuit breaker or existing GFCI if it detects human/equipment electrical contact or a re-energized primary circuit. The widespread use of this type of protective equipment may significantly reduce the rate of occupational electrical injuries and fatalities.

Project Contact: Shengke Zeng
Division of Safety Research
304-285-5894

Lab Testing of Adjustable Roof Bracket-Safety Rail Assembly

Falls from roofs and falls through roof holes and skylight fixtures contribute to numerous deaths and serious injuries in the construction industry. For the years 1998-2003, data analyses revealed that a yearly average of 147 workers were killed, and 3,657 workers were seriously injured after falling from roof edges or through roof holes and skylights. This project will test a NIOSH-designed adjustable roof bracket-safety rail assembly. This patent-pending design will permit the installation of a protective guardrail system along unprotected edges and around unguarded roofs, floor holes, and skylights on flat commercial-industrial roofs and on residential roofs, with seven different slopes, ranging from 6:12 (27°) to 24:12 (63°). NIOSH has advertised for a manufacturing partner to produce and market this new safety product. Input from the NIOSH design team will help the manufacturing partner develop a final design that will meet applicable OSHA requirements at a competitive retail price. If widely used, this fall-prevention system can have an immediate effect of reducing deaths and serious injuries experienced by the construction workforce.

Project Contact: Thomas G. Bobick
Division of Safety Research
304-285-5894

Sensory-Enhanced Balance Control at Elevated Workplaces

This project will evaluate the effectiveness of a novel sensory-enhancing technology to improve workers' balance at elevation. NIOSH researchers, in collaboration with researchers-inventors from Boston University, will build and test prototypes of randomly vibrating (smart) shoe inserts. The smart-shoe inserts increase the pressure sensitivity under the feet by inducing undetectable mechanical vibrations that will improve balance control in the young and elderly. The effect of this new device on workers' postural stability will be tested with motion analyses methods and in simulated roofing and scaffolding environments using a virtual reality system. Improvements in workers' balance control will ultimately result in a reduced number of fall incidents in the elevated workplace. The results from the study may accelerate the development of this novel technology and its application for occupational fall prevention.

Project Contact: Peter Simeonov
Division of Safety Research
304-285-5894

Evaluating Roadway Construction Work Zone Interventions

This multi-disciplinary NORA project targeted at construction involves laboratory and field development, demonstration, and effectiveness evaluation of selected injury-prevention measures that construction contractors can use to protect workers from being struck by construction vehicles and equipment operating inside work spaces of roadway construction projects. Internal traffic-control plans and a variety of proximity warning devices are promising- yet unproven-interventions for preventing fatalities and injuries associated with construction vehicles and equipment. If proven to be effective, adoption of these interventions throughout the construction industry could substantially reduce exposure of workers to moving construction vehicles and equipment, thus reducing fatalities and injuries related to vehicles and equipment by nearly 50%.

Project Contact: David Fosbroke
Division of Safety Research
304)-285-5894

Tag-based Proximity Warning System for Construction Equipment

Collisions between construction equipment and workers on foot are a major safety concern. For example, in the highway construction industry, 87 fatalities from 1997 to 2001, involved a worker being struck by a piece of construction equipment that was backing up within the work zone. Building construction sites are just as prone to backing incidents. Over the same period, 75 worker fatalities involved collisions with reversing equipment at nonroad construction sites. Tag-based proximity warning systems have the potential to reduce collisions in crowded work areas where other types of proximity warning systems may alarm too often to be effective. This new technology needs to be evaluated in actual working conditions to understand its effectiveness and limitations. Results of this study will be used by regulatory agencies and standards organizations in the formulation of rules and recommended practices. The information will also be made available to contractors and labor organizations so that methods to improve safety within construction work zones are selected using objective test results.

Project Contact: Todd Ruff
Spokane Research Laboratory
509-354-8000

A Performance Evaluation of Power Line Proximity Warning Systems

Proposed changes to the OSHA Crane and Derrick Standard will allow the use of proximity warning devices to maintain a safe working distance from overhead power lines. No standard currently exists by which to evaluate or approve such devices. A full scale evaluation of the field performance of overhead power line proximity warning systems is being performed at NIOSH Pittsburgh Research Laboratory (PRL). A consensus test plan is being jointly developed by users, manufacturers, labor, OSHA, and NIOSH. A full scale set of both fixed and moveable power lines up to 25 kV has been installed at the PRL test site. An independent test laboratory will conduct the performance tests, record and analyze the data, and prepare a test report. The report will form the technical basis for development of an ANSI standard that can be used by OSHA to evaluate current and future proximity alarms against a standard protocol, thus ensuring an adequate level of protection against power line electrocution.

Project Contact: James Cawley, P.E.
Pittsburgh Research Laboratory
412-386-6654

Preventing Deaths and Injuries in Excavation and Trench Work

Injuries and fatalities from trench collapses occur in alarming numbers. In 2000, BLS identified at least 31 occupational fatalities associated with trenches and excavations, and OSHA issued more than 3,200 citations in FY01 with penalties exceeding 3.9 million for violations of excavation standards. To prevent injuries and fatalities from trench collapses, this project will identify and characterize the construction trades and the number of workers involved with excavation and trenching work. Through multiple partnerships, trenching hazards will be investigated and communication products will be developed to describe safe work practices and controls, with special emphasis on small businesses and reducing fatal injuries in construction and high-risk populations. The materials will also be produced in Spanish for Hispanic construction workers. This r2p project will produce communication products supporting the NIOSH mission to assure a safe and healthful workplace.

Project Contact: T.J. Lentz
Education and Information Division
513-533-8302

Control Technology Assistance for the Construction Industry

The project will identify and evaluate currently available interventions used to reduce exposures to musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) risk factors. Additional evaluation criteria include the adoption and diffusion of the intervention and effects on productivity and safety. The project has developed partnerships with industry stakeholders, including contractors, labor organizations, and trade associations; tool, equipment and material manufacturers; and academic research institutions. Studies have been conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of interventions for activities known to expose workers to work-related MSD (WMSD) risk factors, such as forceful and repetitive hand use, sustained work at floor and ceiling heights, and lifting and carrying heavy objects. Results of the project will be disseminated among construction stakeholders and in the scientific community through presentations and publications.

Project Contact: Jim Albers
Division of Applied Research and Technology
513-533-8462

Improving the Adoption and Diffusion of Ergonomic Interventions by Concrete Construction Contractors

This 2-year r2p project will develop, evaluate, and implement marketing plans for two currently available, yet underutilized, ergonomic interventions for the construction industry. These interventions have been shown to significantly reduce concrete construction workers' exposures to recognized risk factors for disabling low-back and upper extremity WMSDs when tying concrete reinforcing steel and leveling concrete. This project will build on the success of a previous NIOSH project-the Control Technology Assistance for the Construction Industry Project. The project will develop draft marketing plans for battery powered rebar tiers and portable vibratory concrete screeds. The two drafts will be evaluated in sector-based stakeholder focus groups held in four geographic regions and modified in accordance with the stakeholders' feedback. Finally, NIOSH will implement the final marketing plans with the following actions: (1) place articles in stakeholder publications to describe the WMSD risks and publicize the intervention, (2) directly mail printed educational materials to contractors and other stakeholders (e.g., equipment suppliers and dealers, trade associations and labor organizations, workers' compensation insurance firms), and (3) make the educational materials available on the NIOSH and related internet locations.

Project Contact: Jim Albers
Division of Applied Research and Technology
513-533-8168

Evaluation of ergonomically improved hand tools for sheet metal workers

The purpose of the pilot project is to reduce the incidence of upper extremity MSDs among sheet metal workers in the Plumbing, Heating, and Air-Conditioning (SIC 171/NAICS 23822) sector. This project integrates and builds on the knowledge gained from earlier projects, including a carpal tunnel syndrome epidemiology study [Rosecrance et al. 2002], a sheet metal workers' tool assessment and design project, a NIOSH checklist for the ergonomics evaluation of nonpowered hand tools [Dababneh et al. 2004], and a NIOSH-sponsored meeting of stakeholders in the plumbing, heating, and air-conditioning industry [Albers et al.]. The specific aim is to evaluate the effectiveness of ergonomically improved hand tools used by skilled sheet metal workers to reduce their exposure to recognized risk factors for upper extremity MSDs of the hands, wrists, and elbows. This pilot project has the following objectives: (1) the effectiveness of two ergonomically designed nonpowered hand tools (aviation snips and a compound leverage cable cutter) in reducing sheet metal workers' exposure to risk factors associated with upper extremity MSDs will be evaluated, (2) sheet metal workers' attitudes and behaviors regarding the usefulness and acceptability of the redesigned tools will be evaluated, and (3) the results will be disseminated to industry stakeholders and tool designers and manufacturers.

Project Contact: Jim Albers
Division of Applied Research and Technology
513-533-8168

Hearing Loss Intervention for Carpenters

Carpenters are known to develop occupational hearing loss early, becoming substantially hearing impaired by middle age. NIOSH has developed a comprehensive hearing loss prevention program (HLPP) for carpenters. It is designed to cultivate behaviors to reduce their incidence of occupational hearing loss. This project will field-test this HLPP as well as collect survey and observational data to assess the program's effectiveness in promoting carpenters' work site hearing health behaviors. Measures to be evaluated include factors related to cost-effectiveness and the feasibility of the program, as well as knowledge gained by participants, behavioral intentions of participants, and correlations with actual workplace behaviors. The results of this effort will contribute directly to a reduction in noise-induced hearing loss among construction workers. The model approach used in this program may also be applicable to a wide range of occupationally noise-exposed workers.

Project Contact: Mark Stephenson
Division of Applied Research and Technology
513-533-8462

Silica & Noise Exposure Control for Tile Roof Installers

Roofers are at risk of high crystalline silica and noise exposures during the cutting of cement roofing tiles. Workers frequently make tile cuts using uncontrolled equipment. This project seeks to identify cost-effective and practical control strategies for this operation. Control strategies include, but are not limited to, (1) manually-operated tools, (2) local exhaust ventilation, (3) water application, and (4) alternative materials and roofing methods. The goal is to develop a best practices guideline, model specifications, and other guidance documents for workers to follow that will provide protection from both silica exposures and noise.

Project Contact: Mike Gressel
Division of Applied Research and Technology
513-533-8462

Environmental Tractor Cab System Integrity Testing

Environmental cab enclosures are used to protect heavy construction workers during routine dusty task operations. This project develops and incorporates aerosol test methods (air filtration efficiency, leak identification) to evaluate all phases of cab manufacture/design, auditing, and routine maintenance. This project will provide a critical link in the process of determining the cause(s) of hazardous exposure within enclosed heavy equipment cabs. The study uses particulate filter efficiency testing and aerosol particle counting to identify weaknesses in the respiratory protection that the enclosure affords the machine operator and the applicability of performance audits during routine maintenance.

Project Contact: Ernie Moyer
Division of Respiratory Disease Studies
304-285-5749

Biodynamics of Hand-Arm System & Assessments of Hand Transmitted Vibration

U.S. workers, in fields such as foundry, construction, and mining, are occupationally exposed to hand-transmitted vibration (HTV). This program will provide a more comprehensive understanding of HTV exposure and the HTV syndrome. It will lead to the creation of new theories of vibration exposure and vibration transmission mechanisms, evaluate exposure-effects relationships, and establish more effective methodologies for assessing exposure and evaluating approaches to vibration mitigation. It will also develop better methodologies and new devices for the detection of acute health effects and for the measurement of hand force and vibration power in future field and laboratory studies. The research products that derive from this research program will serve as the basis for future recommendations, criteria, guidelines, and standards pertaining to HTV exposures and their consequences.

Project Contact: Ren Dong
Health Effects Laboratory Division
304-285-6121

Pulmonary, Immune and Dermal Effects of Welding Fume

Welders in the construction industry use many welding processes and materials for a variety of applications. This project will address the health effects of welding fume exposure from the design of an inhalation welding fume exposure system and characterization of the particles generated to a toxicological analysis of the effects of welding fume exposure. Epidemiology studies indicate that large numbers of welders experience adverse health effects. Little information of the causality, dose-response, and possible underlying mechanisms exists regarding the exposure to welding fumes and the health of welders. This project will design an inhalation welding fume exposure system, characterize the particles generated, and analyze the toxicological responses. Results will provide mechanistic and dosimetric information concerning welding fume exposure and be useful for risk assessment and development of prevention strategies.

Project Contact: Jim Antonini
Health Effects Laboratory Division
304-285-6121

Field Studies to Access and Prevent Dermal Over-Exposure

With proper information and techniques occupational skin exposures can be controlled to acceptable levels and health effects prevented. The NIOSH 7-year multi-divisional dermatological project will develop information needed for policy recommendations. This project will partner with industry, labor, academia, and Federal and State agencies and encompass field research to evaluate and document the extent of chemical exposure in selected occupations and the contribution of skin exposure to health effects (hazard identification), as well as the impact of various exposure and health effect reduction interventions (intervention effectiveness). The project will consist of the following (1) review of past trends, recommendations, and partnership building, (2) field studies for exposure assessment and health effects studies, and (3) field surveys for intervention studies.

Project Contact: Chad Dowell
Division of Surveillance, Hazard Evaluations, and Field Studies
513-841-4202

Molecular mechanisms and chemoprevention of Ultraviolet (UV)-induced carcinogenesis

This project will conduct laboratory studies to understand the molecular mechanisms of UV-induced carcinogenesis and to evaluate the effectiveness of antioxidants in prevention of UV-induced diseases. This project is in response to a request from Congress to conduct research regarding workers in agriculture, construction, and other sectors that work outdoors and are exposed to sunlight. The mechanistic investigations will be conducted to explain the events of UV-induced tumor initiation, promotion, and progression. Determining the mechanisms involved in UV-induced carcinogenesis in parallel with the manipulation of target signaling could provide insights for the development of possible prevention strategies. The studies on the protective mechanisms of nature antioxidants will enhance our understanding of the role of nutrition and diet in modifying environmentally induced oxidative damage and progression of disease.

Project Contact: Jim Antonini
Health Effects Laboratory Division
304-285-6121

Project Title: Surveillance of Programs Using Respirators

The construction portion of this project will develop interventions that address shortcomings in current respiratory protection programs (including the interface of respirators with other personal protective equipment) in the road and transportation building industry. The success of the interventions will be evaluated to demonstrate an improved level of protection provided to respirator-wearing workers and for the potential to extend the findings to a larger portion of the construction industry, which should improve respirator use in the construction industry.

Project Contact: Charles Oke
National Personnel Protective Technology Laboratory
412-386-6111

Parkinson's Disease: Welders & Workers Exposed to Manganese

A series of case studies and cross-sectional evaluations of welders have reported neurological effects in welders diagnosed as idiopathic Parkinson's Disease or parkinsonism. Limited evidence suggests that chronic exposure in certain contemporary welding operations where manganese fumes are generated carries a risk of developing a Parkinson's Disease-like neurological disorder, known as manganism, with both reversible and irreversible health effects. In 2005, NIOSH convened a meeting of experts to provide their scientific opinion on the interpretation of neurological effects (e.g., parkinsonism) observed in welders. NIOSH plans to develop a Current Intelligence Bulletin (CIB) to determine the significance of this health risk to welders. The CIB will evaluate (1) the risk of neurological health effects or symptoms occurring in welders, (2) determine whether a relationship exists between the toxicants present in welding fume and neurological effects/symptoms, and (3) determine the need for preventive measures to further reduce welding fume exposures below NIOSH recommended exposure limits (RELs). Although manganese is presumed to be a possible causative agent, the CIB will consider whether other toxicants present in welding fumes may be contributing to the reported adverse health effects. The CIB will be developed by a cross-Institute team. Experts in the field of neurotoxicity from the University of Washington and the Oregon Health and Science University will be consulted on the interpretation of neurological tests and reported effects (e.g., parkinsonism) in welders. Internal and external review will be completed in FY06. Publication is anticipated in FY06 depending on the outcome of the external review process required for an influential scientific assessment document.

Project Contacts: Ralph Zumwalde, Robert Park,
Education and Information Division
513-533-8302

Evaluation of Safety Training for Spanish-Speaking Roadway Workers

A foreman's use of a set of English language safety training materials will be compared with the way in which the foreman attempts to use Spanish-language safety training materials. Patterns of use (or nonuse of certain materials) may be associated with differences in workers' gains in workplace safety knowledge, attitudes, and skills. This project will use interviews and focus groups with supervisors regarding the current practices and problems they are experiencing in training non-English speaking workers. These will be followed by direct observation of worksite training and a pilot intervention assessing the usefulness of one set of bilingual materials. The study will provide information about the way instructors, supervisors, and employers can more effectively meet the learning needs of Spanish-speaking workers. The Laborer's Health and Safety Fund of North America has developed bilingual training materials that will be used in this study.

Project Contact: William Bowles
Education and Information Division
513- 533-8302

Hearing Loss Intervention for Carpenters

NIOSH staff completed and pilot tested elements of a theory-driven program specifically focused on teaching carpenter apprentices to prevent occupational hearing loss. A 3-year intervention is determining the effectiveness with which this program can positively influence hearing health behaviors. Carpenters receiving the NIOSH model Hearing Loss Prevention Program (HLPP) are being compared to a control group that receives only the current OSHA compliance approach. It is hypothesized that the NIOSH model will more effectively influence positive hearing loss prevention behaviors. Measures will be collected and evaluated for knowledge gained, attitudes and beliefs about hearing loss prevention, behavioral intentions, and worksite behaviors. Data will be collected over a 3-year period. This research will enable NIOSH to (1) quantify the extent to which the NIOSH HLPP increases carpenters' knowledge about noise-induced hearing loss and the retention of that knowledge over the period of the study, (2) correlate the relationship between attitudes, beliefs, and behavioral intentions with actual hearing loss prevention behaviors (i.e., hearing protector use), and (3) compare the effects of instructional group size (6 or less versus 15 or more) data collection will conclude in FY05 with analysis and publication in FY06.

Project Contact: Carol Merry Stephenson
Education and Information Division
513-533-8302

Evaluating Toolbox Training in Construction and Mining

The goal of this study was to investigate the narrative approach as a method for enhancing toolbox safety talks. Toolbox training, also called tailgate training, consists of 10- to 15-minute weekly sessions during work shifts that are conducted by company supervisors and are attended by work crews. This form of training is commonly used in construction, mining, agriculture, and other industry sectors. However, little research has investigated its impact on safety knowledge, attitudes, and workplace performance. Based on previous research, a narrative approach that incorporates meaningful case studies or stories is more effective than traditional methods. Findings from this research could reveal an effective, cost-efficient method for enhancing toolbox talks to help employers in construction and mining meet their safety training needs. Such cost-efficient methods are greatly needed by small businesses. Findings from this research will also help to guide the development of future toolbox training materials and will help identify the conditions and elements critical to effective toolbox safety training. These findings will be disseminated using a range of channels, including peer-reviewed research literature, trade and industry publications, and conference presentations.

Project Contacts: Terri Heidotting
Education and Information Division
513-533-8302

Health Effects of Asphalt Exposure: Development of a REL

Information published in the 2001 NIOSH Hazard Review document indicated that acute and possibly chronic respiratory disease existed at the NIOSH REL of 5 mg/m3 total particulate (15-minute sample). Exposure assessment and medical evaluation studies of highway asphalt pavers have been conducted by DSHEFS to determine whether a relationship exists between asphalt fume exposure and acute respiratory effects. Following completion of data analysis and publication of the study results, a determination will be made in concert with staff from DSHEFS as to the appropriateness of the results for deriving a REL for asphalt fume. If sufficient scientific evidence exists, a NIOSH criteria document update on asphalt will be initiated. This document will include recommendations for a REL, medical surveillance, exposure monitoring, personal protective equipment, engineering controls, and work practices. If a criteria document is prepared, approximately 2-years will be required to assemble and evaluate data and to complete the required OMB peer-review process for a highly influential scientific assessment document. NIOSH has collaborated with asphalt industry associations and labor organizations on several research projects and in the development of educational and technical documents on asphalt. Continued collaboration will be maintained to ensure that all relevant scientific and technical information is considered should the development of a criteria document be undertaken.

Project Contacts: Ralph Zumwalde
Education and Information Division
513-533-8302

Development of Workplace Solutions and Other Publications

This project will develop Workplace Solutions and other educational documents to assist in preventing occupational disease and injury. These user-friendly publications are written for the direct benefit of workers and employers, particularly in small business activities including agriculture and construction. Information about new or current occupational hazards and effective controls (or best recommendations for prevention) discovered from recent NIOSH laboratory and field research studies will be shared with workers and employers who are engaged in similar work activities and are likely exposed to the same hazards. The project officer in EID works with investigators in other NIOSH research divisions to develop the document by abstracting salient information and helps to create appropriate dissemination strategies. This project may provide opportunities for further evaluation, control or intervention studies. Approximately 6-10 publications are anticipated to be completed in FY06. This project translates r2p for safety and health professionals, employers, and workers.

Project Contacts: David Votaw,
Education and Information Division
513-533-8302

Evaluation of Trenching/Evacuation Safety Awareness Training

This pilot project will evaluate the readability, comprehension, and usefulness of the OSHA Safety Tips card "Working safely in trenches" using representative groups of construction workers who routinely do trenching and evacuation work. Two rounds of focus groups will be held. Each round will contain two focus groups, one each of native English speakers and of native Spanish speakers. The first round of focus groups will cognitively test the tips card for reading level, comprehension, and usefulness. A focus group of native English speakers will be asked to evaluate the English-language side of the card. Similarly, a focus group of native Spanish speakers will be asked to evaluate the Spanish-language side of the card. The worker comments will guide a revision of the tips card in both English and Spanish. The revised tips card will then be cognitively tested for reading level, comprehension, and usefulness by a second round of focus groups. Following the second round of focus groups, the design and content of the revised tips card will finalized. If successful, this pilot project will lay the foundation for a larger field study of the effectiveness of the revised trenching tips card in influencing actual worksite behavior.

Project Contacts: Donald Eggerth
Education and Information Division
513-533-8302

Toolbox Lessons for Small Business Construction Supervisors

This project will involve creating 52 toolbox talks using narrative (case studies) that will be made available to the construction industry. Information gained during dissemination may lead to more effective, cost-efficient methods to reach small construction businesses to help them meet their safety training needs. Feedback from customers may help to guide the development of future training materials and to identify the conditions and elements critical to effective toolbox safety training. The overall goal is a reduction in fatality and injury rates among construction workers by providing improved training. Reducing worker injuries and fatalities in the workplace would be valuable in reducing lost work days, reducing worker's compensation costs, and increasing the quality of the overall workplace.

Project Contacts: William Bowles
Education and Information Division|
513-533-8302

Global Silica Information Dissemination

NIOSH has produced publications in many formats that address silicosis prevention through respiratory protection programs, engineering and administrative controls, air sampling, laboratory analysis, medical surveillance, and other measures. To advance silicosis prevention efforts in developing countries, this information must be available in a form that can be easily located, accessed, and disseminated, as well as useful. The goal of this 3-year project is to produce information products using existing information from NIOSH, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), and other national and international agencies. The following areas will be addressed:

  • Laboratory analyses
  • Exposure assessment
  • Control of exposure
  • Surveillance/Diagnosis/Treatment

Project staff (NIOSH silica experts) may provide international technical assistance to the ILO/WHO Global Campaign to Eliminate Silicosis and the new PAHO/ILO/WHO Americas Regional Plan to Eliminate Silicosis by training industrial hygienists, chemists, and others. Initially, we will determine the information priorities of our global partners relative to the above subject areas in order to direct the efforts of NIOSH project staff.

Project Contacts: Faye Rice
Education and Information Division
513-533-8302

Manganese-associated Parkinsonism in welders: feasibility

The goal of this project is to identify and gain access to an appropriate population for meaningful investigation, and to develop a proposal for such an investigation. Enquiries will be made to employers using arc welding on a large scale and to other organizations that have an interest in such forms of production. The target industries will include shipbuilding, bridge construction, and construction in the chemical, petrochemical and power-generation sectors. Organizations will include the U.S. Navy, which contracts with many such employers, and possibly various trade associations that may have an interest in establishing reliable knowledge about risks from manganese. With a small group of willing candidate employers, further investigation will attempt to establish (1) the size and demographics of available arc welder and comparison populations, (2) the attributes of record systems pertaining to work history, production documentation, retrospective exposure assessment, and medical history (insurance claims, disability), and (3) the feasibility of conducting neurobehavioral assessments and further medical evaluations on a sample of the proposed study population. A formal study proposal will be developed for a population appropriate for this investigation and one for which the employer, interested trade associations, and associated workers' organizations are prepared to cooperate in such an investigation. It is anticipated that travel to about five sites may be required, and a role may be defined for a contractor in soliciting and arranging discussions with various employers. Consultants in occupational medicine specializing in neurological effects and neurobehavioral clinical evaluation may also be used. Site visits would involve inspection of personnel records, production records, environmental assessment data, and medical information systems. A tentative study design and record access requirements would be shared with prospective employer study candidates as well as numbers of workers that might be required for further evaluation. The ultimate result of this investigation would be a statistical model for the development of Parkinson-like neurological deficits resulting from manganese exposure and a risk assessment that will disclose whether new regulatory requirements and production practices are needed.

Project Contacts: Robert Park,
Education and Information Division
513-533-8302

Communicating Through Construction Trade/Labor Associations

Previous research has shown that trade associations and labor unions are primary sources of occupational safety and health information. NIOSH needs to gain a better understanding of the unmet occupational safety and health information needs in construction sub sectors and develop information and communication products to address these needs. To accomplish this, NIOSH will survey the major construction trade associations and labor unions to determine their occupational safety and health needs and gaps in information related to the prevention of construction site injuries and illnesses. This project builds on the knowledge gained from the 2003 NIOSH survey of customer satisfaction. The process of interacting and surveying the trade associations and labor unions will allow NIOSH to develop a benchmark against which future efforts in partnership and communication can be measured. During the first year of this pilot effort, the survey instrument and sampling strategy will be developed and the HSRB and OMB clearance packages prepared and submitted. One particularly complex task in determining the sampling strategy will be distinguishing the appropriate trade associations to survey. Contractors knowledgeable in survey research and the construction industry will be retained to work with NIOSH staff to perform the pilot year activities. During the second year of this pilot effort, the selected trade associations and labor unions will be surveyed using Dillman's method for mail surveys and the data analysis will be conducted.

Project Contacts: Vernon Anderson
Education and Information Division
513-533-8302


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