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December 18, 2003
NIOSH Update:

NIOSH Awards First Lifetime Achievement Award to Jorma Rantanen, International Health, Safety Leader

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Contact: Fred Blosser (202) 401-3749


The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) today presented the first-ever NIOSH Lifetime Achievement Award in Occupational Safety and Health to Dr. Jorma Rantanen of Finland. The award honors Dr. Rantanen’s career of leadership in Finland and internationally.

Dr. Rantanen was named President of the International Commission on Occupational Health (ICOH) this year. From 1974 to 2003, Dr. Rantanen served as Director General of the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health (FIOH).

“I am privileged to present Dr. Jorma Rantanen with NIOSH’s Lifetime Achievement Award,” said NIOSH Director John Howard, M.D. “Jorma’s vision provides a foundation for strengthening and advancing occupational health in the 21st Century.”

As Director General of FIOH, Dr. Rantanen nurtured a world-class staff of 5,000 occupational safety and health experts, including 1,000 occupational health physicians. Under his direction, FIOH produced ground-breaking research and recommendations on development of occupational health services, including drafting of the Finnish occupational health services legislation; banning the use of asbestos and prevention of asbestos hazards; adaptation of information-intensive work to the needs and capabilities of workers; systematic assessment of chemical risks; prevention of occupational cancer, including prohibition of tobacco smoke exposure in the workplace; and development of the theoretical paradigm and good practices for promotion and maintenance of aging individuals’ work ability.

The network of six Regional Institutes, which he was instrumental in creating in the mid-1970s, provides an infrastructure of occupational health and safety expertise throughout Finland. The network brings occupational health and safety services close to workplaces across Finland.

Internationally, Dr. Rantanen has led efforts to anticipate emerging workplace hazards, build an international network of occupational safety and health professionals, and improve working conditions in developing nations. For example, he drafted the International Labor Organization convention on Occupational Health Services that provides guidance to countries on occupational health services needs for working men and women. He also drafted the World Health Organization Global Strategy on Occupational Health, approved by the WHO member states in 1996, which provides direction for the current global activities of WHO and its collaborating institutions.

Dr. Rantanen has been a pioneer in the development and recognition of comprehensive occupational health, including development of healthy and safe work and work environments, promotion and maintenance of work ability, and introduction of healthy work practices and lifestyles. He holds a Ph.D. degree in radiation biology and medical biochemistry from the University of Turku.

 
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