Breakthrough Thinking Welcomed at AIHce 2009

TORONTO--This year's AIHce offers attendees a Breakthrough Thinking Prize for sharing their best ideas for revitalizing standards writing, enforcement, compliance assistance, and collaborative activities in industrial hygiene.

A session Monday afternoon involved participants self-dividing into teams and debating proposals for change, with former OSHA Assistant Secretary John Henshaw, CIH; Frank White of ORC Worldwide Inc. in Washington, D.C.; and Frank Mirer, Ph.D., CIH, professor at the Hunter Urban Public Health Program in New York City and former OSH director for the United Auto Workers judging the ideas.

Henshaw urged the participants to go beyond the U.S. regulatory framework when considering compliance assistance. Get past linear, standard-by-standard thinking and use a risk-based approach instead, he advised.

"Get America thinking, even though the legislation is not following, on the risk basis like other parts of the world are thinking," said Henshaw, who leads Henshaw and Associates in Sanibel, Fla. Speaking of federal standards, he added, "They're not going to be there for us. They're linear in their thinking anyway. And they're not risk-based."

Mirer asked the participants to think of new ways to tackle major issues, such as how to get employers to record all injuries, including ergonomic injuries, on their 300 logs and subsequently address them. Mirer said this goal could be achieved by having OSHA provide recordkeeping software that employers must use. He cited the example of diacetyl--the flavoring ingredient associated with several cases of respiratory disease--and suggested using an early illness case as the basis for a criminal charge if the case was not properly recorded.

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