by Caroline Miller, CIH, CSP
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) published a Current Intelligence Bulletin (CIB) on NIOSH Practices in Occupational Risk Assessment as announced in a Federal Register notice on March 4, 2020. The CIB establishes the methods NIOSH will use to perform risk assessments.
Health hazards may produce a variety of “adverse effects”, from acute, (e.g., sensitization) to chronic (e.g., cancer). NIOSH defines “adverse effects” as “health effects that are changes in the morphology, physiology, growth, development, reproduction, or life span of an organism, system, or population that result in an impairment of functional capacity, an impairment of the capacity to compensate for additional stress, or an increase in susceptibility to other influences”. NIOSH performs risk assessments to evaluate the exposure of United States workers. In the United States, over fifty million workers are exposed to chemicals daily. Risk assessment is equating the health effect hazard that could result due to the exposure of the chemical. NIOSH develops recommendations to reduce chemical exposures as a result of the risk assessment process. NIOSH also uses the risk assessments to develop recommended exposure limits (RELs) and the occupational exposure banding (control banding) process.
According to the CIB, NIOSH uses the follow methods to perform risk assessments:
- “Determining what type of hazard is associated with a chemical or other agent;
- Collating the scientific evidence indicating whether the chemical or other agent causes illness or injury;
- Evaluating the scientific data and determining how much exposure to the chemical or other agent would be harmful to workers; and
- Carefully considering all relevant evidence to make the best, scientifically supported decisions.”
Appendix C contains emerging practices that provide additional information on developing methods. Of particular note, the appendix includes the following:
- Occupational Exposure Banding
- Emerging Alternatives To Assessing Apical Endpoints
- Quantitative Structure-Activity Relationships
- Nanomaterials Risk Assessment
- Alternative Methods for Nanomaterials
- Non-Chemical and Cumulative Risk Assessment
Current intelligence bulletin 69: NIOSH practices in occupational risk assessment. https://doi.org/10.26616/NIOSHPUB2020106revised032020
Federal Register Notice: https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2020-03-04/pdf/2020-04436.pdf
NIOSH, risk assessment, Current Intelligence Bulletin, Occupational Exposure Banding, Nanomaterials, Quantitative Structure-Activity Relationships
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