NORA Manufacturing Sector Strategic Goals
9278554 - Risk Communication and Evaluation of Worker NotificationStart Date: 10/1/1988
End Date: 9/30/2010
Principal Investigator (PI)Name: Everett Lehman
Funded By: NIOSH
Primary Goal Addressed9.0
Secondary Goal AddressedNone
Attributed to Manufacturing100%
Worker Notification and its evaluation are ongoing NIOSH program activities which provide occupational health risk information to workers, their families, and other stakeholders. The program is routinely evaluated for effectiveness and impact on NIOSH research subjects. Since the practice of worker notification began at NIOSH during the early 1980's, more than 100,000 individual letter notifications have been mailed to workers included in nearly 80 different studies. For four additional studies, study results were posted in workplaces and labor union offices. In addition, two intervention evaluation studies have been completed, one on the long-term impact of worker notification among a cohort of high risk chemical workers; the other on effectiveness of worker notification messages and materials among a cohort of females currently working in dry cleaning shops.
Worker Notification and other risk communication activities are ongoing projects which primarily inform subjects of NIOSH epidemiologic studies of the overall study findings, and evaluate the impact and effectiveness of the notifications among study subjects, concerning their risks of workplace exposures. The worker notification program has historically consisted of individual notification projects related to specific epidemiologic studies or studies with epidemiological components. Most notifications consist of individual letters to workers, with enclosures describing the purpose, methodology, overall study results, other sources of health information for the worker, and recommendations to workers for protecting their health and mitigating risks. The written materials not only describe research study findings concerning risk for disease or illness, and report information derived from other studies focusing on the same exposures, but also share information about protecting health (e.g., medical screening, routine use of personal protective equipment, smoking cessation, etc.), and mitigating workplace risks. The notification materials are designed to be visually appealing and are written in audience appropriate language. All notifications are subject to tripartite review by NIOSH researchers, the appropriate companies involved in the studies, and labor unions (if any), prior to mailing. During the last several years the number of traditional worker notification efforts have diminished, while efforts in communicating other types of studies (e.g. – exposure assessment, emerging occupational health issues) has increased. The development and maintenance of website topic pages is a significantly increasing workload as workers increasingly utilize this method to obtain risk and health information. As new technologies increase and workers change their information-seeking habits, an evaluation of the traditional worker communication methodology becomes necessary in order to ensure that we are reaching the workers in an effective way with an effective message.
The primary objective of worker notification program is to provide useful information to workers and their families for the purpose of protecting workers' health and potentially reducing their occupational health risks. Worker notification is considered a method of secondary disease intervention and although it often consists of a one time written communication to study subjects, the written materials contain important occupational risk information useful to workers.
Worker Notification and its evaluation are ongoing NIOSH program activities which provide occupational health risk information to workers, their families, and other stakeholders. The purpose of worker notification is to inform NIOSH research subjects of epidemiologic studies about the overall findings of the studies. Worker notification efforts are also used to evaluate the effectiveness and impact of the ongoing notification methods and materials by ascertaining whether workers are being adequately and properly notified. Worker notification and evaluation are consistent with contemporary ethics regarding risk communication. The Worker Notification Program was initiated in response to concerns by citizen groups, unions, and Congress that workers included in studies of exposures should be informed of the results of the studies (e.g., informed of their risk for illness and disease). Health communication, of which worker notification is a component, plays a critical role in the prevention of occupational injury and disease. The major public health benefit of worker notification is that informed workers may take steps today that lead to intervention only if the program is based on proven methods of effective risk communication. Notifying workers of study results has been a NIOSH policy since 1988. The current notification processes were established in the 1995 modification to the policy.