May 13, 2021

Occupational Health Experts Recommend New Guidelines to Prevent Workplace Illness and Injury


May 13, 2021 (Falls Church, VA)—AIHA, the association for scientists and professionals committed to preserving and ensuring occupational and environmental health and safety (OEHS), announced new guidelines for developing health metrics in workplaces. The leading health metrics guidelines are designed to prevent workplace illness and injury, with an overarching goal for workers to return home as healthy as when they came to work.

“The focus on identifying measures that occur before worker’s health is harmed is critical to safeguarding worker health. AIHA hopes that these guidelines help employers create healthier workplaces and prevent occupational illness and injury in the first place,” said AIHA CEO Lawrence D. Sloan, CAE.

Best Practice Guide for Leading Health Metrics in Occupational Health and Safety Programs is a guide for both practitioners and managers in the broad occupational health community, including industrial hygiene, occupational medicine, occupational health nursing, engineering, and human resources. It applies to businesses of all sizes in all industry sectors, including but not limited to, manufacturing, distribution, healthcare, and nongovernmental organizations.

Leading health metrics - as opposed to lagging health metrics - focus on disease prevention and health promotion. They are measurable, evidence-based indicators that are used to monitor, predict, influence, and manage exposures, hazards and conditions in a workplace that may impact worker health. Health outcomes addressed by leading metrics can be acute, such as eye irritation, dermatitis, or metal fume fever—or they can be chronic, such as elevated blood pressure, hearing loss, or cancer. Leading health metrics can include the number of workers exposed to hazardous noise, the number of those who participate in tobacco cessation programs, etc.

Lagging metrics measure after-the-fact occurrences, such as injury and illness rates and prevalence of disease. Unfortunately, lagging metrics are not preventive, as worker health has already been impacted. Because of the lag time between exposure and adverse health effects, such metrics can give false reassurance when the physical manifestation from an adverse exposure is not yet present.

The comprehensive guide is free and includes specific examples of leading health metrics, how to create a balanced set of leading health metrics, and how to implement and measure them in a workplace. Visit http://www.workerhealthsafety.org to download a copy.

About AIHA
AIHA is the association for scientists and professionals committed to preserving and ensuring occupational and environmental health and safety in the workplace and community. Founded in 1939, we support our members with our expertise, networks, comprehensive education programs, and other products and services that help them maintain the highest professional and competency standards. More than half of AIHA's nearly 8,500 members are Certified Industrial Hygienists and many hold other professional designations. AIHA serves as a resource for those employed across the public and private sectors as well as to the communities in which they work. For more information, please visit www.aiha.org.