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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. Data collection and analysis for this project are completed. Products to disseminate the results, including a manuscript and a fact sheet, are under development.

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 is using 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, (7) patient compartment integrity, (8) cabinet mounting and content retention, (9) occupant excursion when restrained; and (10) sub-floor structural integrity. 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: 1997-2021

Engineering Controls in Healthcare

This project has an ambulance-focused research component that seeks to minimize the ambulance environment as a source of infectious exposures for emergency medical personnel. Exposure protections will be sought through the development and testing of air cleaning and surface decontamination interventions that will lead to guidance development and hopefully, adoption within ambulance design guidelines.

Project contact: Kenneth Mead
Division of Applied Research and Technology
Project period: 2009-2018

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: 2006-2020

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: 2011-2017

Performance Requirements and Test Methods for Head Covers, Footwear Covers, Aprons and Glove/Protective Clothing Interface Regions

This project aims to improve personal protective equipment (PPE) selection and use compliance among healthcare workers (HCWs) and emergency medical service providers by developing performance and design requirements. The project findings will be provided to Standard Development Organizations (SDOs) such as American Society for Testing & Materials (ASTM) International, Association for Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI), and National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). These organizations can utilize the findings as the scientific basis for the development of new standards or improvements to the current standards or guidelines.

Project contact: Selcen Kilinc-Balci
National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory
(412) 386-4086
Project period: 2015-2020

Effect of PPE on Biomechanical and Physiological Responses in First Receivers during Decontamination Performance

This laboratory-based project will comprehensively evaluate stresses imposed on first receivers wearing PPE. Results will be used to develop safer work practices for first receivers and healthcare workers wearing higher levels of PPE during clinical care of Ebola patients, or other infectious disease patients, especially in places lacking environmental controls. The long-term goals are to develop safety guidelines (e.g. work-rest ratio, physical criteria) and to improve PPE design for first receivers.

Project contact: Kenny Kim
National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory
(412) 386-5010
Project period: 2015-2017

Three Occupation Specific Units for the Workplace Violence Prevention Online Course

The purpose of this project is to create occupation specific workplace violence prevention courses that will provide relevant information for emergency responders (emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics, etc.), stand-alone healthcare facilities (physicians, dentists, pharmacies etc.), and social services/home healthcare providers

Project contact: Daniel Hartley
Division of Safety Research
(304) 285-5812
Project period: 2014-2018