HEALTH HAZARD EVALUATIONS
The mission of the NIOSH Health Hazard Evaluation (HHE) Program is to protect worker health through problem solving, research, risk communication, and dissemination of findings and recommendations by responding to external requests for hazard evaluations and technical assistance.
The HHE Program is a Congressionally mandated program that responds to requests from employers, employees and their representatives, and government agencies. One of the charges to NIOSH explicit in the Occupational Safety and Health Act is to “conduct workplace investigations.” Section 20(a)(6) of the Act describes the core of the HHE Program as follows:
“…following a written request by any employer or authorized representative of employees, specifying with reasonable particularity the grounds on which the request is made, whether any substance normally found in the place of employment has potentially toxic effects in such concentrations as used or found; and shall submit such determination both to employers and affected employees as soon as possible.”
Similar language is found in the 1977 Federal Mine Safety and Health Act and Amendments.
While the language of these two acts establishes broad guidelines for a transparent process for conducting investigations, Congress also instructed NIOSH to develop regulations to govern when and how its investigations are conducted. Those regulations are found in 42 CFR Part 85 Requests for HHEs.
NIOSH, in response to these requests, conducts workplace assessments to determine if workers are exposed to hazardous materials or harmful conditions and whether these exposures are affecting worker health. In addition to providing direct recommendations to reduce hazards at the workplace evaluated, an HHE presents the opportunity to obtain information on occupational exposures where standards are lacking or do not protect all workers. Workplace exposures studied include chemicals, biological agents, work stress, noise, radiation, and ergonomic stressors. NIOSH evaluates the workplace environment and the health of employees by reviewing records and conducting on-site environmental sampling, epidemiologic surveys, and medical testing.
For more information on the NIOSH HHE program, including how to request an HHE, visit the HHE Program website.
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