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May 29, 2019
ASSP, NIOSH renew partnership; plan for new construction safety research

The American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) renewed their workplace safety promotion and research partnership May 22. The continuing relationship is expected to result in new research on fall protection measures for young, immigrant construction workers in the coming year, the ASSP said in a statement.

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ASSP President Rixio Medina and NIOSH Director John Howard signed a memorandum of understanding, extending their partnership another 5 years.

Five-year plan

The ASSP and NIOSH outlined their priorities for the next 5 years, which include:

  • Working together on safety research;
  • Promoting workplace implementation of their own and others’ research results;
  • Promoting best practices and professional development opportunities in the occupational safety and health field;
  • Encouraging employers to develop and utilize safety and health management programs; and
  • Cooperating on joint ventures in international safety and health promotion.

“We’re looking forward to further collaborating and amplifying each other’s efforts over the next several years to enhance workers’ well-being and business safety performance,” Medina said.

Safety and health of young, immigrant workers

The ASSP and NIOSH have previously collaborated on research into the safety and health risks faced by young, immigrant construction workers at small companies.

Their collaboration resulted in a joint report, Overlapping Vulnerabilities: The Occupational Health and Safety of Young Immigrant Workers in Small Construction Firms.

Their research looked at young—under 25 years old—Latino immigrants working at construction companies with fewer than 20 employees. Factors that make this group vulnerable to injury and illness include:

  • Immigrants’ unfamiliarity with the risks and safety practices in the American workplace;
  • Small employers’ lack of capacity, knowledge, and robust safety management and training systems; and
  • Adolescents’ risk-taking and their lack of knowledge, skills, and job training.

The ASSP and NIOSH concluded that a handful of interventions could help this particular group of vulnerable workers. Recommended interventions included:

  • Culturally tailoring safety certification and training programs to help vulnerable workers gain basic safety and health skills, such as the ability to identify hazards and understand how they can be controlled;
  • Promoting the value of employee safety certification and training programs as a competitive advantage for small employers;
  • Increasing awareness among small employers of the risks of occupational injury and illness among the vulnerable populations they employ; and
  • Providing assistance to small employers to help with hazard recognition and control and writing safety plans in a manner appropriate to their workforce and worksites.

The ASSP and NIOSH expect to release additional findings in the coming year. They plan to offer safety professionals effective practices they can use to prevent falls among the same group of workers.

Professional organization, government institute

The ASSP, formerly known as the American Society of Safety Engineers, is a group of more than 38,000 workplace safety and health professionals. The group was founded in 1911 a few months after the March 25, 1911, Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, which killed 146 workers in a New York City garment factory.

NIOSH, a part of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was established by the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, as was the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

“We have a common mission to prevent workplace injuries, illnesses, and fatalities, so we want to benefit from each other’s experience and combine resources where possible to improve occupational safety and health performance,” Medina said.

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