August 29, 2000
that I am the Safety Manager,
Where do I start?"
Congratulations, you are now responsible
for the safety program at your workplace. So, where do you
start? Are you familiar with OSHA, NIOSH the EPA and all
of the different regulating agencies? Do you need an Industrial
Hygienist or an Occupational Health Nurse? What about an
employee medical surveillance program? Do you have all of
your Material Safety Data Sheets? Are you confused yet?
Of course you are! Even the most experienced health and safety
professionals find themselves confused by all of the technical
This article is the first in a
series dedicated to the novice health and safety professional.
Our goal is to provide you with the tools to help you do your
job better and smarter. This first article will start with
information on the roles of the key players within the health
and safety profession. Future articles will include information
on basic safety terminology, web links, regulatory agencies,
writing a workplace health and safety plan and starting an
in-house safety committee.
First, let's get started by understanding
the "who's who" of health and safety. There are
many different professions within the health and safety field.
Here is a description of the most common technical specialties.
Do you need these people on your team?
An Industrial Hygienist (IH) is
trained to recognize, evaluate, control and prevent workplace
exposures. The IH will review all workplace tasks to identify
employee exposures to chemicals, noise, asbestos, lead, respiratory
hazards, airborne contaminants, radiation, etc. The IH is
trained on the proper use and selection of personal protective
equipment (PPE) such as respirators, gloves, coveralls, eye,
face and head protection. The IH is also educated on the
proper design and operation of ventilation systems.
The IH is also skilled to operate
many types of testing equipment such as noise meters, air
sampling pumps, confined space meters and direct reading instrumentation.
This equipment allows the IH to collect samples of workplace
contaminants to determine if a hazardous exposure exists.
The IH is instrumental in evaluating workplace exposures and
making recommendations for improvement.
The goal of the industrial hygienist
is to keep workers, their families, and the community healthy
and safe. They play a vital part in ensuring that federal,
state, and local laws and regulations are followed in the
The American Board of Industrial
Hygiene (ABIH) administers the professional certification
process for Industrial Hygienists. Certified Industrial Hygienists
(CIH) are recognized for their expertise after fulfilling
a demanding qualification process. For more information regarding
Industrial Hygiene and the CIH process please refer to the
American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) at http://www.aiha.org/ and the ABIH at http://www.abih.org/.
A safety professional is a person
engaged in the prevention of accidents, incidents, and events
that harm people, property, or the environment. They use qualitative
and quantitative analysis of simple and complex products,
systems, operations, and activities to identify hazards. They
evaluate the hazards to identify what events can occur and
the likelihood of occurrence, severity of results, risk and
cost. They identify what controls are appropriate, the cost
Safety professionals make recommendations
to managers, designers, employers, government agencies, and
others. Controls may involve administrative controls (such
as plans, policies, procedures, training, etc.) and engineering
controls (such as safety features and systems, fail-safe features,
barriers, and other forms of protection).
Beside knowledge of a wide range
of hazards, controls, and safety assessment methods, safety
professionals must have knowledge of physical, chemical, biological
and behavioral sciences, mathematics, business, training and
educational techniques, engineering concepts, and particular
kinds of operations (construction, manufacturing, transportation,
The Board of Certified Safety Professionals
(BCSP) administers Professional certification for safety professionals.
The Certified Safety Professional (CSP) has met specific education
and training requirements and has successfully passed a comprehensive
examination process. For more information regarding safety
professionals and the CSP process please visit the American
Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) web site at http://www.asse.org
and the BCSP at http://www.bcsp.com/index.htm.
Health Nurse (OHN)
Occupational health nursing is
the specialty practice that provides for and delivers health
care services to workers and worker populations. The practice
focuses on promotion, protection, and restoration of worker's
health within the context of a safe and healthy work environment.
Occupational health nurses make independent nursing judgements
in providing occupational health services.
Occupational health nurses encourage
and enable individuals to make informed decisions about health
care concerns. Confidentiality of health information is integral
and central to the practice base. Occupational health nurses
are advocates for workers fostering equitable and quality
health care services and safe and healthy work environments.
Occupational health nurses are
registered nurses (RN) licensed to practice nursing in the
states in which they work. It is preferred that nurses entering
the field have a baccalaureate degree in nursing and experience
in public or community health, ambulatory care, critical care,
or emergency nursing. For information regarding Occupational
Health Nursing services, please contact WorkCare at http://www.workcare.com/.
Professional certification as a
Certified Occupational Health Nurse (COHN) is a voluntary
process that recognizes those nurses who meet specific eligibility
requirements and have demonstrated current knowledge in their
specialty. The American Board for Occupational Health Nurses,
Inc. (ABOHN) sets the criteria for certification and administers
the certification exams. For certification information, contact:
ABOHN at http://www.abohn.org/.
For information regarding Occupational Health Nursing please
contact the American Association of Occupational Health Nurses
(AAOHN) at http://www.aaohn.org/.
The Occupational Physician is a
licensed MD with special training and experience in the health
hazards of workers. A physician who works “in-house” may
be located at the employer's site, or at a national or regional
headquarters. Consulting or contract physicians may be located
at a local health clinic, or in a consulting group. They are
responsible for establishing medical surveillance and treatment
protocols, and standards of care within an in-house or local
medical clinic. The Occupational Physician is often part
of a medical team consisting of Occupational Health Nurses
and Physician Assistants. Other personnel can include Worker's
Compensation Claims Examiners, Case Managers, and Physical
Therapists. The Occupational Physician will determine if
a worker's injury is occupationally induced or not. Additional
tasks that these physicians can assume include Worker’s Compensation
and disability case management, toxicology and epidemiology
consulting, Health and Wellness program development, international
and travel medicine, and Human Resources and Benefits support.
For information regarding Occupational
Physicians contact the American College of Occupational and
Environmental Medicine (ACOEM) at http://www.acoem.org/. For specific information
on Occupational Medicine services, please contact WorkCare
The Emergency Preparedness Manager
is responsible for defining and communicating each employee's
role during an emergency. The Emergency Preparedness Manager
must ensure that each employee, including Executives, instinctively
understands the answer to "What do I do if "x"
happened?" Achieving this goal is no small task. This
includes the development, training and testing of emergency
action plans, evacuation plans, disaster plans and Executive
level incident management plans.
Having a well prepared employee
base provides an employer not only with a faster, more effective
response to an incident and fewer incident/stress related
claims but with ultimately faster recovery time and better
image protection. The quicker the business can return to
a "pre-incident" business state the better off the
company, the employees, the stockholders, and the consumers
The Emergency Preparedness Manager
should have a background in Crisis Management/Emergency Management
methodology and practices, Safety Regulations, National Fire
Protection Association (NFPA) requirements and Contingency
Planning. Ideal candidates have had experience responding
to and recovering from incidents (man-made and natural) in
a business setting (such as those that can occur in heavy
industry or manufacturing) and have extensive experience in
developing and implementing company-wide regulatory programs.
Compensation Claims Examiner
The Worker's Compensation Claims
Examiner is responsible for administering all aspects of the
injured worker's claim. This includes adhering to all federal
and state laws regarding worker's compensation. The Claims
Examiner is responsible for processing all paperwork involved
in a claim including medical reports, employee statements,
litigation files and payments. The Claims Examiner will make
contact with the injured worker to explain their benefits
under the laws of Worker's Compensation.
Compensation Case Manager
The Case Manager is a medical person,
(i.e., a Registered Nurse) who is responsible for managing
the medical treatment of a worker's compensation claim. The
Case Manager works directly with the claims examiner, the
injured worker and the treating physician(s) to ensure that
the worker is receiving appropriate treatment to ensure a
safe and healthy return to work. The Case Manager is in close
contact with the injured worker to ensure that he or she fully
understands their injury, their limitations and the treatment
plan to return them to productive work.
For information regarding Case
Management services, please contact WorkCare at http://www.workcare.com/.
The Environmental Engineer is responsible
for the management of several programs related to environmental
protection, most commonly: Hazardous Waste Management and
Disposal, Air Quality, Water Quality and Recycling/Reclamation.
The Environmental Engineer is trained in the requirements
of federal, state and local environmental regulations.
Well, after "meeting"
all of these key players within the safety profession, you
are probably asking yourself "how do I get all of these
specialties within my organization?" The truth is that
most employers do not have individuals representing all of
the above disciplines. Many health and safety professionals
are cross-trained to take responsibility for more than one
discipline. The more experienced professionals have pursued
multiple certifications so they can be responsible for many
aspects of a safety organization (i.e., individuals with both
the CIH and CSP). These individuals are invaluable as team
members, advisors or as consultants.
We wish you great success as you
begin to build your safety organization. We hope you will
find excitement and challenges in your new safety career.
Please visit our site for next month's article featuring information
on technical terms and definitions most frequently used by
safety professionals. We will also include a comprehensive
listing of useful web links for the health and safety professional.
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See you next month, firstname.lastname@example.org