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The History and Future of NIOSH Morgantown

Categories: Policy and Programs

The state-of-the-art NIOSH Morgantown facility opened in 1996.

To commemorate Workers Memorial Day, NIOSH is hosting a week of blogs with a new post each day ending on Monday, April 28th.  To start us off, we will highlight the past and look to the future with a retrospective on the history of occupational safety and health research and NIOSH in Morgantown, West Virginia.

Occupational safety and health research has deep roots in Morgantown. In 1967, the Appalachian Laboratory for Occupational Respiratory Diseases (ALFORD) was created within the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) to focus on a prominent problem of the Appalachian occupational environment–”black lung disease” in coal miners. ALFORD’s director was Dr. W. Keith Morgan. The lab was initially housed in the West Virginia University (WVU) Health Sciences Center, and its research focused on detecting black lung disease and assessing its physiological effects. In 1969, work began on a new facility for ALFORD on 4.6 acres of land donated by WVU to PHS. In the same year, the Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969 (Coal Act) was passed. The Coal Act mandated a range of measures to protect coal miners, including limits on coal mine dust exposures and a program providing medical screening with chest radiographs to coal miners at operators’ expense.

Prevention through Design Standard

Categories: Engineering Control, Manufacturing, Policy and Programs, Prevention Through Design

PtD logoThe American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) recently announced the approval of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI)/ASSE standard, “Prevention through Design: Guidelines for Addressing Occupational Risks in Design and Redesign Processes” (Z590.3). This new standard provides guidance on including Prevention through Design concepts within an occupational safety and health management system, and can be applied in any occupational setting.

The new standard focuses specifically on the avoidance, elimination, reduction and control of occupational safety and health hazards and risks in the design and redesign process. Through the application of the concepts presented in the standard, decisions about occupational hazards and risks can be incorporated into the process of design and redesign of work areas, tools, equipment, machinery, substances and work processes.

NIOSH and Electronic Health Records

Categories: Policy and Programs, Technology

white-coated man holds pen and regards clipboardYou’ve probably heard about ‘electronic health records’ or ‘EHRs’—either in the news or from people you know who work in the healthcare field. An electronic health record (EHR) (also electronic patient record (EPR) or computerized patient record) is defined as a systematic collection of electronic health information about individual patients or populations.1 It is a record in digital format that is capable of being shared across different health care settings, by being embedded in network-connected enterprise-wide information systems. Such records may include a whole range of information including age, gender, ethnicity, health history, medications and allergies, immunization status, lab test results, radiology images, and billing information.2 EHRs will soon be coming to a healthcare facility near you, if they haven’t already, and will allow your doctors and other providers to communicate essential information about your health more efficiently and more quickly.

State-based Occupational Safety and Health Surveillance

Categories: Policy and Programs

How did NIOSH and its partners find out that dusty work conditions were putting highway repair workers at risk for developing a potentially severe lung disease called silicosis? The answer: state-based occupational health surveillance. Occupational health surveillance, which is the tracking of occupational injuries, illnesses, hazards and exposures for the purposes of improving worker safety and health and monitoring trends and progress over time, plays a vital role in worker protection. Surveillance data are used by the safety and health community to inform real-world safety and health prevention efforts and focus resources to protect workers.

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