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Cornerstone Documents on Ergonomics, Cutting-Edge Health Studies Win NIOSH Science Award

NIOSH Update:

May 6, 1998

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) on May 6, 1998, recognized the scientific excellence of four recent reports and studies from NIOSH research on work-related musculoskeletal disorders and respiratory illnesses — two of today’s most serious health and safety problems on the job.

The publications received NIOSH’s Alice Hamilton Award honoring superior scientific merit in publications authored by institute researchers in four categories in 1997. The selections were made by review panels of scientific experts from outside NIOSH.

“These documents highlight the outstanding scientific quality of NIOSH research, its fundamental importance for new advancements, and the direct and practical application of NIOSH science for protecting workers every day from serious injury and illness on the job, at a time when such leadership in health and safety research is more vital than ever before,” said NIOSH Director Linda Rosenstock, M.D., M.P.H.

The winning NIOSH publications included:

  • –NIOSH’s critical review of the epidemiological evidence pertaining to workplace factors for musculoskeletal disorders, the most comprehensive critical evaluation of that type ever published.
  • –NIOSH’s unique, user-friendly primer on elements of effective ergonomics programs, designed to help workers, employers, and others identify, correct, and prevent costly work-related musculoskeletal disorders.
  • –A sophisticated cellular study that provides new insights into the complex biological processes involved in occupational asthma — today’s most frequently diagnosed occupational respiratory disease.
  • –An analysis that uses state-of-the-art scanning technology to identify the surface composition of coal mine dust particles, yielding new information for more effective prevention of coal workers’ pneumoconiosis.

Honorable mentions went to publications on the effects of shiftwork, analyses of lifetime risk of fatal occupational injuries, and sophisticated studies of effects from asbestos, silica, and hexavalent chromium.

NIOSH announced the recipients in a ceremony at the institute’s Pittsburgh (Pa.) Research Laboratory. Cecil E. Roberts Jr., president of the United Mine Workers of America, presented the keynote address. The ceremony was broadcast to other NIOSH locations in Morgantown, W.Va.; Cincinnati, Ohio; Spokane, Wash.; Washington, D.C.; and Atlanta, Ga.

Publications were judged on several criteria, including the complexity and originality of the research, the significance of the research for addressing serious or prevalent workplace hazards, and the clarity of the presentation. Categories were engineering and physical sciences, educational materials, biological science, and human studies. A full list of the winning publications and honorable mentions appears on the following pages. The award is named for Alice Hamilton, M.D., a pioneering U.S. occupational physician and researcher.

For further information on the winning publications and other NIOSH research, contact the toll-free NIOSH information number, 1-800-35-NIOSH(1-800-356-4674).

1998 Alice Hamilton Award — Winning Publications

Human Studies Category

Musculoskeletal Disorders and Workplace Factors — A Critical Review of Epidemiologic Evidence for Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders of the Neck, Upper Extremities, and Low Back, by Bruce P. Bernard, Vern Putz-Anderson, Susan E. Burt, Libby L. Cole, Cheryl Fairfield-Estill, Lawrence J. Fine, Katharyn A. Grant, Christopher C. Gjessing, Lynn Jenkins, Joseph J. Hurrell, Nancy Nelson, Donna Pfirman, Robert Roberts, Diana Stetson, Marie Haring-Sweeney, and Shiro Tanaka. The external review panel for this category described the report as the first comprehensive critical review ever of the epidemiological evidence related to workplace factors for musculoskeletal injuries, and as such, an important document for focusing future research and prevention efforts.

Honorable Mention — “Working Lifetime Risk of Occupational Fatal Injury” by David E. Fosbroke, Suzanne M. Kisner, and John R. Myers. The external review panel described the article as valuable for highlighting the high risk of work-related death in many occupations, and the need for action to prevent these fatalities.

Educational Materials Category

Elements of Ergonomics Programs — A Primer Based on Workplace Evaluations of Musculoskeletal Disorders, by Alexander L. Cohen, Christopher C. Gjessing, Lawrence J. Fine, Bruce P. Bernard, and James D. McGlothlin. The external review panel for this category described this guide for identifying, controlling, and preventing musculoskeletal hazards in the workplace as an excellent example of translating scientific information into a useful guide for injury prevention.

Honorable Mention — Plain Language About Shiftwork, by Roger R. Rosa and Michael J. Colligan. The external review panel described this publication as a creative discussion of the science about effects of shiftwork, and solutions for coping with these effects.

Biological Science Materials Category

“Pulmonary Dendritic Cell Distribution and Prevalence in Guinea Pig Airways: Effect of Ovalbumin Sensitization and Challenge,” by Tracey L. Lawrence, Lyndell L. Millecchia, David G. Frazer, and Jeffrey S. Fedan. The external review panel for this category described this article (on the complex cellular processes involved in occupational asthma) as a publication that addressed one of today’s most difficult occupational health challenges and presented significant findings clearly.

Honorable Mention — “Oxidative Stress in Silicosis: Evidence for the Enhanced Clearance of Free Radicals from Whole Lungs,” by Val Vallyathan, Stephen Leonard, Periannan Kuppusamy, Donna Pack, Michael Chzhan, Sherry Sanders, and Jay L. Zweir. The external review panel described this article (on intricate physiologic changes associated with silica exposure) as a publication that provided key approaches for the prevention of silicosis.

Honorable Mention — “Molecular Regulation of IL-6 Activation by Asbestos in Lung Epithelial Cells,” by Petia P. Simeonova, Wataru Toriumi, Choudari Kommineni, Muge Erkan, Albert E. Munson, William N. Rom, and Michael I. Luster. The external review panel described this article as one that provided fundamental evidence on the process by which asbestos fibers cause physical changes in the lung.

Engineering and Physical Sciences Category

“Surface Composition of Respirable Silica Particles in a Set of U.S. Anthracite and Bituminous Coal Mine Dusts,” by Joel C. Harrison, Patricia S. Brower, Michael D. Attfield, Clayton B. Doak, Michael J. Keane, R. Larry Grayson, and William E. Wallace. The external review panel for this category described this article as using novel methodology for the understanding of coal workers’ pneumoconiosis hazards in coal mines.

Honorable Mention — “Determination of Hexavalent Chromium in Industrial Hygiene Samples Using Ultrasonic Extraction and Free Injection Analysis,” by Jim Wang, Kevin Ashley, Eugene R. Kennedy, and Charles Neumeister. The external review panel described this article as one that described a methodology that can lead to better monitoring of worker exposure to hexavalent chromium, and better evaluation of the effectiveness of engineering controls.