Occupational Epidemiology

The importance of Occupational Epidemiology is noted and described in an
article in a special supplement, "Public Health Then and Now: Celebrating 50
Years of MMWR at CDC." The authors of the article, William Halperin, M.D. and
John Howard, M.D., describe three roles for epidemiology as part of the the
US-American National Institute's for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)
scientific expertise. The three roles are field epidemiology under the Health
Hazard Evaluation program, epidemiology in large studies across multiple sites,
and surveillance for job-related disease and injury.

The research authority vested in NIOSH has helped to fuel advances by NIOSH and
its partners against a broad range of workplace hazards. Those hazards include
lead, asbestos, dioxin, coal mine dust, traumatic injuries, workplace violence,
latex allergy, and occupational lung disease associated with butter flavorings.

Further, the article notes, that authority stimulated "an effective patchwork"
of new health surveillance systems that greatly improved the ability to
identify, measure, and address hazards - among them: traumatic injuries and
cardiovascular disease among fire fighters, health care employees' risk of
infection from sharps injuries, fatal work injuries among teen workers,
silicosis, and pesticide poisoning.

In building on its "extraordinary capacity" in epidemiology to confront the
demands of the 21st Century, NIOSH faces these challenges, Dr. Halperin and Dr.
Howard said:

  • Applying epidemiology to ensure the safety of new advances in commerce and technology.

  • Leveraging resources to help states build capacity in occupational safety and health.

  • Supporting a robust system to train health and safety professionals, and to sustain trainers.

  • Addressing worker safety and health needs in an era of increasing globalization.

"The ultimate challenge for NIOSH is to not only effectively control
occupational diseases and injuries that are the remnants of the last century,
but also to preempt new hazardous exposures and conditions from gaining a
foothold in the new century," Dr. Halperin and Dr. Howard said.

More info - Source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)