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Changing approaches to prevention in the workplace.

Baker EL
NIOSH 1986 Oct; :9-11
Changing approaches to preventing occupational illness and injury were discussed. The traditional approach to controlling workplace hazards was summarized. This involved setting standards for specified airborne contaminant exposure, inspecting worksites to determine compliance, and citing employers for failure to comply. It was noted that this approach has limitations. The scientific basis for setting standards may be incomplete or inadequate. Due to the large number of hazardous agents present in United States workplaces, this process could continue indefinitely. The traditional approach did not take into account the interactions of workplace exposures with other nonoccupational risks. Supplementary approaches were considered. These included establishing generic standards and industry specific standards for selected industrial processes that present a definable risk of injury or illness. Medical surveillance was also considered. Implementation of the OSHA standard for lead (7439921) was cited as an example of the impact of medical surveillance. It was noted that medical surveillance is currently being used as a secondary tool for preventing occupational illness or injury. Conditions for utilizing medical surveillance as a primary tool for preventing work related illnesses and injuries were discussed. These included evaluating existing medical screening tests, developing new tests, developing a national network of certified practitioners who can objectively evaluate workers, and developing criteria for reporting and diagnosing occupational conditions that can be used by practitioners. It was noted that international cooperation is of great importance in evaluating existing medical surveillance tests and developing reporting and diagnostic criteria.
NIOSH-Author; Occupational-health; Disease-prevention; Medical-screening; Health-care-personnel; Occupational-health-programs; Exposure-limits; Workplace-studies
Publication Date
Document Type
Conference/Symposia Proceedings;
Fiscal Year
Source Name
The Changing Nature of Work and Workforce, Proceedings of the Third Joint US-Finnish Science Symposium, Frankfort, Kentucky, October 22-24, 1986, NIOSH, Cincinnati, Ohio
Page last reviewed: February 11, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division