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NIOSH Lifetime Achievement Award in Occupational Safety & Health, Jorma Rantanen


The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is pleased to present its first Lifetime Achievement Award in Occupational Safety and Health to Jorma Rantanen.
This award honors Dr. Rantanen’s four decades of activity in occupational safety and health, including three decades of international leadership. Dr. Rantanen has significantly advanced efforts in his homeland of Finland and around the world to prevent work-related injuries and illnesses. In his new role as President of the International Commission on Occupational Health (ICOH), Jorma will continue to inspire and lead the international community

The highlights of Dr. Rantanen’s career to date include these:

As Director General of the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health (FIOH) from 1974 to 2003, Dr. Rantanen nurtured a world-class staff of 5,000 occupational health and safety experts, including 1,000 occupational health physicians. The network of six Regional Institutes, which he was instrumental in creating in the mid-1970s, provides an infrastructure of occupational safety and health expertise throughout Finland. The network brings occupational safety and health services closer to workplaces across Finland.

Under Dr. Rantanen’s direction, FIOH produced ground-breaking research and recommendations on the development of occupational health services, including drafting the Finnish occupational health services legislation; banning the use of asbestos and prevention of asbestos hazards; improving information-intensive workplaces to meet the needs of workers; systematic assessment of chemical risks; prevention of occupational cancer, including prohibition of tobacco smoke exposure in the workplace; and developing a good practices model for promoting and improving the health of older workers.

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. As a leader of research that has helped integrate healthy and safe work environments with prerequisites for healthy living in Finland, Dr. Rantanen provides the European perspective for NIOSH’s new initiative on “Steps to a Healthier U.S. Workforce.”

Dr. Rantanen holds a Ph.D. degree in radiation biology and medical biochemistry from the University of Turku. He is the author of more than 430 research reports and book chapters covering medical biochemistry, radiation biology, toxicology, risk assessment, and occupational health. His professional honors would fill an entire page by themselves. They include an appointment as Commander of the Order of the White Rose of Finland, awarded by the President of the Republic of Finland, the Ramazzini Award presented by the Collegium Ramazzini, Honorary Fellow of the Faculty of Occupational Medicine, Royal College of Physicians, London, and Academician and Foreign Member of the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences.