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NIOSH Recognizes Innovative Research & Partnerships at 2006 Symposium


NIOSH Update:

Contact: Fred Blosser (202) 401-3749
April 18, 2006

NIOSH Recognizes Innovative Research and Partnerships at 2006 Symposium

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) in cooperation with the National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) Liaison Committee, will present three awards to exemplary partners and researchers in the field of occupational health and safety research at the NORA Symposium 2006, to be held in Washington, D.C., on April 18-20, 2006.

Nominations for the awards were reviewed by the NORA Liaison Committee, which represents industry, labor, academia, professional organizations, and government. The selected winners will be presented with an engraved plaque on the opening day of the symposium, which celebrates the success of the first decade of NORA and will launch the next decade of occupational health and safety research. The award winners honored at the 2006 NORA Symposium are as follows.

The National Occupational Research Agenda Innovative Research Award for Worker Health and Safety honors those who have shown creativity and innovation in their occupational health and safety research in a NORA priority area. The Green Tobacco Sickness (GTS) project is the 2006 award winner of the Innovative Research Award for Worker Health and Safety. GTS can affect farm workers who handle wet tobacco leaves and may lead to symptoms such as dizziness, nausea, and vomiting that can lead to life-threatening dehydration. Latino tobacco workers are especially at potential risk since they supply the majority of the tobacco labor in the U.S., as are small farmers who cultivate much of the tobacco grown abroad, the research partners said. Physicians believe that the number of recognized cases is only a small proportion of the actual number of cases. The project consisted of three related research projects with Latino farm workers, tobacco growers, and medical personnel. The partners conducted an epidemiological study to document the prevalence of symptoms in a cohort of farm workers, examined cases in depth to determine risk factors for illness, and used this information as a basis for recommended interventions. The result was the first body of scholarly work on GTS epidemiology and the production of meaningful education materials for both farm workers and medical personnel who treat GTS.

The National Occupational Research Agenda Partnering Award for Worker Health and Safety honors groups who have demonstrated exemplary teamwork, innovative thinking, and strong science in their collaborative partnerships on occupational health and safety research.

The Slip, Trip and Fall Prevention in Health Care Workers project is a 2006 winner of the Partnering Award for Worker Health and Safety. This effort brought together a first-of-its-kind collaboration between private and public sector U.S. hospitals, organized labor, private and public sector health and safety researchers, and international researchers with cooperation from manufacturers of footwear, flooring, and floor wax, to research, develop and test a program that would help to prevent slip, trip and fall injuries among health care workers. Worldwide, falls are the second leading cause of accidental death and the third leading cause of disability. The U.S. health services sector, with over 10 million workers, is the leading private employer and in 2002 alone accounted for more injured workers than the construction and mining industries combined. Through historical analyses of incidence surveillance, telephone interviews of injured workers, lab studies evaluating flooring and shoes, and field studies in select hospitals, the group was able to establish a “best practices” injury prevention program. As a result, one of the main partners in the project reported an estimated 25 percent reduction in workers’ compensation costs. A layman’s document is in development for distribution to all U.S. hospitals, and the results of various component studies have been presented at multiple national and international conferences.

The NIOSH Hazardous Drug Working Group is a 2006 winner of the Partnering Award for Worker Health and Safety. This group consisted of representatives from government, labor, pharmacy, nursing, academia, research, pharmaceutical and safety equipment manufacturing, and trade associations. Approximately 5.5 million people work in healthcare occupations that involve potential exposure to potent drugs used for cancer chemotherapy, antiviral drugs, hormones, and other hazardous drugs. Studies associate such exposures with acute and chronic potential health effects ranging from skin rashes to cancer. The working group charged themselves to develop a NIOSH policy document that made a clear statement about the potential risk of health effects associated with hazardous drugs. They also identified the need for better information on glove material selection and for informative resources on the selection and use of engineering controls. The products and impacts of this collaboration include a NIOSH Alert summarizing known health risks and guidelines for safe handling and administration, and actions in partnership with the Food and Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health.

NORA was first unveiled by NIOSH and its partners in 1996 as a first-of-its-kind framework to guide occupational safety and health research. The 2006 Symposium will celebrate the great success of the first decade of NORA research and help launch the next decade of a sector-based approach to occupational health and safety research. For more information about NORA or the 2006 Symposium, visit: