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NIOSH Expresses Appreciation for IOM Report on Personal Protective Technology Program

NIOSH Update:

Contact: Fred Blosser (202) 245-0645
June 26, 2008

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) expressed appreciation for a new report by an eminent scientific panel that reviewed NIOSH’s Personal Protective Technology (PPT) Program. The June 26th report was issued by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), which was asked by NIOSH to convene the committee and the public review.

“We appreciate the hard work of the independent panel, the assistance of the Institute of Medicine for making the public review possible, and the vital contributions of NIOSH staff in this major undertaking,” said NIOSH Director John Howard, M.D.

NIOSH conducts strategic national research to advance personal protective technology (PPT) that safeguards workers from risks of work-related illness, injury, and death. By law, NIOSH also tests and certifies respiratory protection devices that are used as an integral part of workplace safety and health programs under the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

The review committee made five recommendations for furthering “the already substantial efforts of the [NIOSH] PPT program.” The report, which contains the committee’s findings and recommendations in detail, is available at http://www.iom.edu/CMS/3740/45683/55601.aspx.

“In conducting this study, the committee noted the significant progress that has been made in developing and testing respirators to reduce or prevent hazardous inhalation exposures, currently limited mainly by the problems of facial fit and user adherence,” said Dr. E. John Gallagher, university chair, Department of Emergency Medicine, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York, in the preface to the report. Dr. Gallagher chaired the scientific review committee. “Concurrently, the committee identified important challenges ahead in ensuring that other types of non-respiratory PPT (e.g., protective clothing, gloves, eyewear, hearing protection, helmets, and fall harnesses) receive similar attention in their testing and development.”

Dr. Gallagher added, “Furthermore, there are many substantive scientific and regulatory challenges in providing workers with integrated PPT that offers multiple types of necessary protection. These challenges arise because few PPT products are designed to work together in a seamless and coordinated fashion, thus causing gaps in protection where different components interface, compromising worker health and safety. In addition, PPT may be uncomfortable and may impede communication or the ability to perform one’s job. Thus, as explored in detail in the report, there are a wealth of opportunities for improving PPT to better protect U.S. workers.”

“We will review the panel's findings and recommendations closely and prepare a draft implementation plan, and then we will ask our independent NIOSH Board of Scientific Counselors to review the complete package,” Dr. Howard said. “This process is an historic step in building on the successes of protective technology in the 20th Century workplace to identify needs and opportunities for advancements in the 21st Century workplace.”

NIOSH asked for the public review in order to increase the transparency of NIOSH’s research programs and to help ensure that the programs are based on high-quality, relevant science that has an impact in preventing work-related injuries, illnesses, and deaths. More information on the IOM review is available at http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/nas/ Further information about NIOSH’s personal protective technology program can be found at http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/programs/ppt/.

 
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