Many Paths, One Goal – Protecting Worker Health: An AIHA Workshop Series on Occupational Risk Assessment

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AIHA is hosting this free workshop series to bring together experts in occupational risk assessment to discuss the various approaches to exposure and risk assessment used in different areas of practice, including chemical regulation (e.g., TSCA, REACH), health and safety compliance, research, and product stewardship.

The goal is to enhance the understanding and appreciation of others’ approaches so that each one can leverage insights and data generated by others to most effectively meet their needs.

Key topics to be covered include identifying data and assessing quality, exposure models, dermal exposure assessment, and risk characterization and management. See below.

Who Should Attend?

  • OEHS and industrial hygiene (IH) professionals who would like to share insights and learn new perspectives on the scope of occupational risk assessment.
  • Risk assessors and product stewardship professionals who are responsible for managing chemical safety.
  • Chemical managers who want to better understand the diversity of IH data and maximize its application.

Objectives

  • Provide an opportunity for experts to share information and perspectives on important methodological issues in occupational risk assessment.
  • Build mutual understanding among professionals and stakeholders and enhance communication.
  • Identify approaches to assess data gaps and the need to fill them in the context of performing occupational risk assessment.
  • Discuss strategies to refine methods and gather necessary information.

Format and Outcomes

  • Several short informational presentations to set the stage for the discussion.
  • Facilitated discussion with invited expert panel.
  • Audience members submit questions prior to and during the workshops.
  • A concise report highlighting key concepts, opportunities for advancing practice, and identification of resources.

AIHA actively supports the development of occupational risk assessment methods, through a chartered Risk Committee; workshops; technical publications; and professional development courses. This workshop series will help advance occupational risk assessment methods development and practice for AIHA members and others.

WORKSHOP 1
The Many Aspects of Occupational Risk Assessment: Understanding Differing Approaches and Goals

Date and Time

Contact Hours: NONE

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This workshop session will highlight the key differences in terminology, objectives, and methods among occupational risk assessment methods used for different purposes. Presentations and discussions will focus on baseline occupational and environmental health information and safety data collection and assessment processes, and look at common scenarios from different contexts such as TSCA occupational risk evaluations, health and safety compliance, research, and product stewardship programs.

The goal of protecting worker health is shared by all occupational risk assessors and IH professionals. Different domains of occupational risk assessment use different approaches that are “fit-for-purpose”. For example, facilities often take a “bottom-up” approach, in which data and risk management methods are site- or even task-specific. Conversely, regulatory risk evaluations often take a “top-down” approach, in which the risk evaluations are meant to cover broader conditions of use (e.g., chemical manufacturing, uses, or disposal ). While each domain conducts assessments for their intended purpose, a comparison of approaches can highlight the considerations when extrapolating data collected under one approach for use in another domain.

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Other Planned Workshop Topics

Data Quality and Integrity: Methods and Practices

Date and speakers TBA

All those involved in occupational exposure and risk assessment aim to use the best available methodologies and models. However, because the methods of an assessment are tailored to specific objectives, there may be limitations in extrapolating results to other contexts. In this session, discussions will focus on OEHS data collection, data quality assessment (including the different definitions of a “high quality” data point), and quality assurance. The speakers and panelists also will discuss common data gaps and provide perspectives on how best to fill these gaps.

OEHS Data Identification and Analytics and Similar Exposure Groups

Date and speakers TBA

It can be challenging to integrate large and complex occupational exposure datasets from multiple sources, such as internal databases, agency inspections, and workers’ compensation claims. This workshop will focus on techniques to identify and mine exposure data from various sources and explore ways in which “big data” analytics tools can be employed to generate data for use in exposure models. A second workshop objective is enhancing understanding of the ways in which different types of occupational risk assessments evaluate OEHS data (e.g., use of central tendency values, quantification of uncertainty, handling of outliers, and comparison to health benchmarks). Finally, panelists will discuss methods for evaluating the representativeness of sample datasets.

Occupational Exposure Models: Options and Opportunities

Date and speakers TBA

Exposure modeling can be a valuable tool to estimate worker exposure when quality empirical exposure data are not available or to supplement empirical data. This session will facilitate a transfer of knowledge among stakeholders to understand underlying model availability and selection practices. Additionally, strategies for model refinement to ensure appropriate characterization of potential exposures will be discussed and demonstrated using a variety of modeling tools (e.g., ChemSTEER, IH MOD, ART).

Dermal Exposure Assessment Methods and Data Gaps

Date and speakers TBA

Methods for evaluating occupational dermal exposure are less standardized than those for other exposure routes. This session will compare dermal exposure assessment methods, including models and data collection strategies, to enhance understanding across occupational risk assessment domains. The current state of the science and research opportunities, needs, and strategies for improving dermal exposure assessment will be discussed.

Risk Characterization, Communication, and Management Strategies

Date and speakers TBA

Risk communication and management of potential risks for all exposed workers, including downstream users, are key components of occupational risk assessment. The goal of this session is to share insights on effective strategies for communicating risk and for disseminating information on risk management strategies. Information on the hierarchy of controls and common risk and safety management methods utilized in OEHS practice will be shared and discussed.