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August 15, 2012

EU-OSHA Posts Literature Review on Risk Perception and Communication on Nanomaterials in the Workplace

Lynn L. Bergeson

On June 20, 2012, European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) posted a new literature review entitled Risk perception and risk communication with regard to nanomaterials in the workplace, which found “serious gaps in our awareness of the potential risks involved in handling nanomaterials at work, and serious shortcomings in the way that those risks are communicated to workplaces.” The review intends to:

  • Summarize the general principles and theories of risk perception and communication, referring to relevant trends and current guidance on these topics;
  • Identify the stakeholders involved in risk perception and communication for nanomaterials in the workplace, and appraise relevant research, studies, surveys, and risk communication initiatives that have been done to date at national and international levels; and
  • Consider the gaps in knowledge and limitations of the risk communication initiatives in this area, and suggest ways these might be addressed, with a view to proposing how to communicate with workers and employers on the potential risks of nanotechnologies and highlighting the difficulties involved.

EU-OSHA states that risk communication strategies need to help employers make informed decisions about their workplaces and put adequate prevention measures in place, and to empower individual workers to take personal control of their own situations to protect themselves adequately.