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Occupational injuries and illnesses among emergency medical services (EMS) workers

This is a collaborative project with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Office of Emergency Medical Services. The project purpose is to conduct research to provide a detailed description of non-fatal occupational injuries and illnesses incurred by EMS workers, including the nature, circumstances, and outcomes of the injuries and illnesses and the characteristics of the injured or ill workers.

Project contact: Audrey Reichard
Division of Safety Research
Project period: 2009-2016

Partnering with Industry to Build Safe EMS Work Environments

The current NIOSH project builds on previous NIOSH research aimed at reducing or eliminating vehicle crash-related injuries and fatalities to Emergency Medical Service (EMS) workers in ambulance patient compartments. NIOSH uses a data generated on this and predecessor projects to create new crash safety test methods, also known as “Recommended Practices”. These Recommended Practices are, or will be, published by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). The SAE Recommended Practices cover: (1) ambulance crash response in frontal impact; (2) side impact; (3) rear impacts; (4) seating and restraints; (5) gurney and patient restraint; (6) equipment mounting, and (7) patient compartment integrity, (8) cabinet mounting and content retention, (9) occupant excursion when restrained; and (10) interior surface delethalization. Six have already been published and are now being referenced by three national, bumper-to-bumper standards used in the design of an ambulance. This project is being conducted in collaboration with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the General Services Administration, the Department of Homeland Security, the National Institute for Standards and Technology and the Ambulance Manufacturer’s Division of the National Truck Equipment Association. The team is also conducting an anthropometric study to quantify the EMS population to determine if it differs in stature from that of the general public. This work is being conducted using the NIOSH Mobile Anthropometry Laboratory and will support additional research at the National Institute for Standards and Technology.

Project contact: James Green
Division of Safety Research
Project period: 2008-2017

Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program

The purpose of this project is to reduce fire fighter fatalities by identifying work situations at high risk for fatal injury and formulating prevention strategies for those who can intervene in the workplace. NIOSH conducts on-site investigations of fire fighter line-of-duty deaths to identify the circumstances and conditions that contributed to the fatality, and then disseminates recommendations for preventing similar occurrences.

Project contact: Tim Merinar
Division of Safety Research
Project period: 1997-2020

Evaluating the Needs, Knowledge & Health Impacts of Three Worker Populations During & After Super-Storm Sandy

This project builds on existing New Jersey Department of Health occupational surveillance, enhancing surveillance and prevention activities to better characterize and capture adverse health outcomes related to natural and manmade disasters. The aims of this project are to: 1) conduct a retrospective analyses of several uniquely available statewide data sources on work-related injuries and acute illnesses to evaluate strategies for use and improvement of these data systems for surveillance of work-related health effects related to natural and manmade disasters; and 2) conduct qualitative (focus group) and quantitative (surveys) research to better understand the hazards, health outcomes and other unique work-related challenges faced by responders during and after Superstorm Sandy. This project is comprised of two areas of study, the evaluation of existing surveillance data to classify and capture work-related injuries and fatalities during a natural disaster and the evaluation of health outcomes of three specific worker populations, emergency responders, tree care company employers and employees and Red Cross volunteer workers.

Project contact: Steve Inserra
Office of Extramural Programs
Project period: 2013-2015

Recovery from Catastrophic Weather: Mold Exposure and Health-Related Training

This project is designed to increase knowledge and protective behavior related to mold mitigation and health effects within emergency and recovery respondents in states affected by Hurricane Sandy. The project team will engage response and recovery workers and volunteers to identify barriers to becoming knowledgeable and acting appropriately to reduce the risk from mold exposure activities. The team will develop and offer an on-line publication and a series of seminar trainings including a respirator program. To better prepare emergency response personnel to address respiratory illness and mold exposure, a course segment offering Continuing Medical Education will be incorporated into the University of Connecticut on-line Clinicians Mold Course. The project will initially be implemented in Connecticut. The network will then be broadened to contacts throughout the states impacted by Hurricane Sandy to offer the materials on overcoming the barriers to using methods and PPE to mitigate mold exposure for disaster preparedness programs throughout the country.

Project contact: Steve Inserra
Office of Extramural Programs
Project period: 2013-2015

Ultraviolet Germicidal Irradiation (UVGI) Systems for Respiratory Reuse and Ambulance Disinfection During a Pandemic

The project seeks to develop two critical tools for an infectious epidemic response: respirator ultraviolet sanitation equipment (ReUSE) and ambulance module surface disinfection (AMSD) systems, complete with evidence-based implementation protocols. This is a timely requirement, as there will be insufficient developmental time once a pandemic starts. Establishing the ReUSE and AMSD systems now allows first-responders, healthcare workers, and planners to become familiar with the technologies and protocols, so they are ready when an epidemic occurs.

Project contact: Stephen Martin
Division of Respiratory Disease Studies
(304) 285-6367
Project period: 2012-2015

Pandemic Influenza Research

This project addresses occupational safety and health goals to protect (1) transportation (and traveling) workers from airborne exposures within commercial aircraft and (2) healthcare workers/emergency responders from airborne, close-range airborne and droplet infectious disease transmission. The project component specific to ambulance research will develop and publish engineering interventions that reduce disease transfer risk within the ambulance and facilitate the translation of research findings into federal ambulance design specifications.

Project contact: Kenneth Mead
Division of Applied Research and Technology
Project period: 2009-2015

NFPA Protective Clothing and Equipment Standards Development

The project purpose is continuous improvement in emergency services personal protective equipment (PPE) by revising existing standards and developing new standards. This process considers new material technologies and design configurations which can be driven by performance criteria mandated in PPE certification standards. Implementing these National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards enhances worker safety and health hazard prevention. NIOSH staff at the National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory participate in the revision process of NFPA protective clothing, equipment, and selection, care and maintenance standards according to a timeline mandated by NFPA.

Project contact: William Haskell
National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory
Project period: 2006-2017

Development of Performance and Design Criteria for Isolation Gowns

The purpose of this project is to improve isolation gown selection and use compliance among healthcare workers by developing information products, performance, and design requirements. It aims to evaluate currently-used isolation gowns to determine existing products, performance, and design limitations as well as interface issues. The specific goals are to determine the protection, comfort level, tolerability, and interface issues with the most common isolation gowns and to define performance and design requirements based on the results and end-user feedback.

Project contact: Selcen Kilinc-Balci
National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory
(412) 386-4086
Project period: 2011-2016