While the goals of theNational Prevention and Health Promotion Strategyare admirable, the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) sees as a glaring omission in the current proposal: the lack of attention given to medical conditions caused by workplace exposures.
In a January 11 letter to the National Prevention Council, AIHA President Michael T. Brandt expressed “deep concern” about the issue, noting that decades of workplace exposures make workers vulnerable to chronic diseases and conditions that include lung diseases, acute chemical poisoning, cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, hearing loss and musculo-skeletal disorders.
Brandt recommended that occupational health recommendations to promote healthy workplaces – free from hazards that impact the health of workers -- be added to the strategy. He noted that occupational illnesses and injuries place an enormous financial burden on the health care system, injured workers and their families.
“Most adults spend a quarter of the year in a workplace, and that for many, this is a principal source of their chronic disease risk," Brandt said.
In addition, the AIHA suggested that an expert on industrial hygiene be appointed to the Advisotyr Group on Prevention, Health Promotion and Integrative and Public Health.
The strategy is being developed by the Department of Health and Human Services’ National Prevention, Health Promotion, and Public Health Council, which was created in June, 2010 by President Obama. It is intended to focus health care efforts and resources on the prevention of disease and the promotion of wellness, especially at the community level.