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The future of industrial hygiene.

Howard J; Debord DG; Hoover M
Synergist 2014 Sep; 25(8)(Suppl 1):7
Our future success requires a continued evolution of industrial hygiene science and practice from a compliance-based focus to a more proactive approach to promote safety, health, well-being, and productivity. New generations of men and women are entering the work force. New industries are emerging, and new technologies such as nanotechnology and demographic trends are transforming the economy. New tools are needed to drive innovative prevention for emerging hazards, as well as for historical hazards such as falls and silicosis that continue to claim lives and livelihoods. Here are some specific activities that can foster the evolution of industrial hygiene by improving our ability to anticipate, recognize, evaluate, control, and confirm worker protection: 1. Prevention through design (PtD) efforts <a href=""target="_blank">( </a> can proactively engineer hazards, exposures, and resulting risks out of the workplace. 2. 21st-century technologies such as the new NIOSH mobile app for ladder safety <a href=""target="_blank">( </a> can serve as tools to drive innovative preventive measures. 3. Investigation of the "exposome"-a concept defined as the measure of all the exposures of an individual in a lifetime from before birth to present and how those exposures relate to health-can provide important information about actual exposures to the individual. NIOSH has developed an initiative to evaluate how the exposome can be used in occupational safety and health <a href=""target="_blank">(</a>. The validation and interpretation of biomarker data will be crucial for the use of this information in exposure assessment and industrial hygiene practice. 4. The use of sensors has exploded as billions of remote wireless sensors and direct reading devices are now employed for monitoring the environment, work sites, disaster relief, agriculture and health, to name a few areas. Smartphone technology has helped to drive this field. Enabling workers to monitor their own work activities can enable immediate informed actions to reduce potential exposures. NIOSH has created a new Center for Direct Reading and Sensor Technologies to develop guidance for appropriate use, validation, and interpretation of these technologies. 5. NIOSH partnerships in Total Worker Health <a href=""target="_blank">( </a> reflect a strategy based on the realities of today's economy, where working life and private life are closely linked for many of us. By combining worker health protection and work-based health promotion, we can better help working people stay safe, healthy, able, and active in the course of a lifetime. 6. Addressing the threats of large-scale disaster-whether of natural or human origin- demands that occupational safety and health professionals build on and adapt our historic skills to safeguard emergency responders in dangerous, unpredictable environments. The emerging discipline of disaster science research <a href=""target="_blank">( </a>will inform new, evidence-based protocols for keeping responders safe in rescue, recovery, and rebuilding operations. The future of industrial hygiene and AIHA is bright. NIOSH looks forward to continuing our long and fruitful collaborations with you as we protect our nation's workers and those of the global work force.
Industrial-hygiene; Safety-programs; Safety-measures; Health-programs; Health-protection; Nanotechnology; Demographic-characteristics; Hazards; Fall-protection; Silicosis; Exposure-levels; Risk-factors; Monitoring-systems; Monitors; Disaster-prevention
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Journal Article
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NIOSH Division
Source Name
The Synergist
Page last reviewed: May 11, 2023
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division