Think Globally, Howard Tells AIHce Crowd

The NIOSH director always draws an appreciative audience at safety and health conferences. He urged the industrial hygienists to involve themselves in international standards and to prepare for new challenges.

INDIANAPOLIS –- NIOSH Director Dr. John Howard gave another riveting keynote speech June 19 and offered equally interesting answers during a Q&A session here at the 2012 American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition. Howard, notable during his tenure at NIOSH for focusing on emerging hazards and big issues, discussed the demographic factors affecting workers and jobs around the world and large challenges.

Workers will be more precious, in the sense of being scarcer, as developing countries such as China and India transition to the same type of society now evident in Japan and the United States: fewer workers supporting more retired people. Up to 30 percent of the U.S. workforce may be working contingently, he said, adding that such workers are not recognized by traditional OSH mechanisms such as workers’ compensation. “Workers’ compensation may be losing its way, and we in the occupational safety and health industry need to have a voice in this transition” and to redouble efforts to prevent disability in the first place, he said.

Multinational employers and multinational OSH practitioners are increasing, and international standards such as GHS “may be our only future,” Howard said, contrasting them with national standards that are difficult or impossible to bring to completion.

“The world of risk information grows by leaps and bounds. That world must be at your fingertips,” he advised, adding that having expertise in exposure assessment involving chemicals and physical hazards may not be the essential capability for industrial hygienists throughout the 21st century.

During the Q&A after his speech, he said the lessons of the 9/11 attacks and response are clear for the OSH community: for large disasters with thousands of responders, OSH professionals must think of protecting those responders while they are happening. This could include deep perimeter control, such as the use of armed guards to prevent unauthorized intrusions, as well as chips attached to each responder to facilitate medical monitoring afterward and also real-time exposure assessment, he said.

About the Author

Jerry Laws is Editor of Occupational Health & Safety magazine, which is owned by 1105 Media Inc.

Download Center

  • Lone Worker Safety Guide

    As organizations digitalize and remote operations become more commonplace, the number of lone workers is on the rise. These employees are at increased risk for unaddressed workplace accidents or emergencies. This guide was created to help employers better understand common lone worker risks and solutions for lone worker risk mitigation and incident prevention.

  • Online Safety Training Buyer's Guide

    Use this handy buyer's guide to learn the basics of selecting online safety training and how to use it at your workplace.

  • COVID Return-to-Work Checklist, Fall 2021

    Use this checklist as an aid to help your organization return to work during the COVID-19 pandemic in a safe and healthy manner.

  • SDS Buyer's Guide

    Learn to make informed decisions while searching for SDS Management Software.

  • Risk Matrix Guide

    Risk matrices come in many different shapes and sizes. Understanding the components of a risk matrix will allow you and your organization to manage risk effectively.

  • Industry Safe

Featured Whitepapers

OH&S Digital Edition

  • OHS Magazine Digital Edition - October 2021

    October 2021

    Featuring:

    • TRAINING
      On Route To Safe Material Handling
    • SAFETY CULTURE
      Normalization of Deviations in Performance
    • IH:INDOOR AIR QUALITY
      Arresting Fugitive Dusts
    • PPE:FOOT PROTECTION
      Safety Shoes Make the Outfit for Well-Protected Workers
    View This Issue