NIOSH Nominates 10 Studies for 2008 CDC Science Award

NIOSH has nominated a significant paper published in the June 2007 issue of Human Factors for the 2008 Charles C. Shepard Science Award, which is sponsored by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and honors excellence in science at CDC during 2007. The paper, "Evaluation of Fall Arrest Harness During Sizing Schemes," (Human Factors 2007; 49(3): 447–464) was co-written by Hongwei Hsiao of NIOSH's Protective Technology Branch in Morgantown, W.Va.; Jennifer Whitestone of Total Contact Inc., Germantown, Ohio; and Tsui-Ying Kau of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Using three-dimensional scans of torsos and human/harness interfaces of 108 women and 108 men to quantify the effect of torso shape and size on the fit of fall harnesses, the authors estimated at least 24 percent of men and 31 percent of women would not be able to find a well-fitting harness based on their body dimensions and the current harness sizing scheme. They developed an alternative sizing scheme with eight equations and showed it successfully classified 96-100 percent of tested participants to their best fit size for two harness types.

They also show that suspension angle of a harness wearer after an arrested fall correlates to two fit parameters: thigh strap angle and back D ring location. This information could be used by harness manufacturers to better predict suspension test results, which would help the construction industry reduce injury risks resulting from poorly fitting harnesses, failure to don harnesses properly, and improper size selection, they concluded. The study is particularly important given the increased participation of women in U.S. construction.0

Their article is available at www.hfes.org/Web/HFESNews/FallArrestSizing.pdf.

In all, NIOSH nominated 10 studies that were published last year for the 2008 Shepard Award and one person -- Dr. Vincent Castranova, chief of the Pathology and Physiology Research Branch in NIOSH's Health Effects Laboratory Division -- for the award's lifetime scientific achievement category. Winners will be announced later this year.

"The articles nominated for the 2008 award illustrate the wide range of issues addressed by NIOSH in its research to prevent work-related injuries and illnesses, the complex challenges that those problems entail, and the advanced scientific tools and knowledge that our scientists bring to our mission,” said NIOSH Director Dr. John Howard.

All 10 studies were published in peer-reviewed scientific journals; several were studies of health effects of exposure to nano materials, and one examined a ceramics facility's program that reduced the health effects of new workers' beryllium exposures.

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