Howard: Professional Enrichment Key to IH Future

By Cable, Josh | Occupational Hazards, July 2007 | Go to article overview
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Howard: Professional Enrichment Key to IH Future


Cable, Josh, Occupational Hazards


In a presentation at the 2007 American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition (AIHce) in Philadelphia, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Director Dr. John Howard asserted that core competency enrichment and enlargement and proving the value of industrial hygiene should be the goals of the profession in the 21st century.

Howard argued that industrial hygiene's core competency--exposure assessment--"seems unlikely to meet the demands of the 21st century" because it has been "circumscribed, I think, by a science and a practice that was limited primarily to single-agent exposure assessment models."

Howard challenged the industrial hygiene field to add mixed-exposure assessment to the "current handbook approach."

"Science and practice need to reflect the reality of exposure, which is often multi agents acting synergistically," Howard said. " ... [A]ssessing exposure as if only a single route of exposure is important represents again a constrained approach to risk assessment. If exposure assessment remains constrained by the 20th century approach, then advances in risk assessment will be constrained also."

New Competencies

In Howard's view, there are more than enough "unmet challenges" in occupational and environmental safety and health "to sustain a demand for services from an enriched and enlarged profession."

"I believe, somewhat paradoxically, that the 21st century specialist in occupational and environmental safety and health must possess the competencies of a multi-specialty generalist," Howard said.

Howard said that he envisions industrial hygienists potentially developing a number of new competencies.

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