As we move further into the 21st century, converging demographic, economic, and cultural trends have made population aging one of the most important issues facing U.S. workers and businesses. In this context, however, far less attention has been paid to the safety and health needs of older workers.
Safety at work can depend on an effective or comfortable fit between the physical workplace or the tools of work, and the worker. A seatbelt becomes impractical if it can’t be latched securely or comfortably. The safety that firefighters’ gloves provide is compromised if the gloves are too big, hampering dexterity and movement in a hectic and physically risky situation.
A “champion” is commonly defined as the victor of a competition or challenge. A less common usage of the word “champion,” one that has particular resonance for us at NIOSH, is the meaning that denotes an early advocate for an innovative cause or idea.
On Labor Day 2014, we reflect on the ways in which work sustains us as individuals, strengthens our families and communities, and enables our society to function smoothly and productively. We see this in our daily lives.
ISHN posted this commentary from Dr. Howard earlier in April. Given Dr. Howard’s long tenure at NIOSH and his visionary perspectives on worker health and safety, we want to “rebroadcast’ it as an ISHN blog.
The traditional occupational safety and health programs of the twentieth century were designed, by and large, to prevent work-related injury, illness, and death in workplaces where hazards usually were recognizable and predictable. In the twenty-first century, scientists and decision-makers have had to develop additional skills and strategies to address another type of hazard: the risks that emergency responders face in the line of duty from unpredictable, uncontrolled conditions encountered in large-scale disasters.