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May 20, 2010

ILO Publishes Booklet On Emerging Hazards

Lynn L. Bergeson

On April 27, 2010, ILO published a booklet entitled “Emerging Risks and New Patterns of Prevention in a Changing World of Work,” which summarizes new occupational safety and health issues, including those related to technical innovations such as nanotechnology. The booklet states:

There is a big knowledge gap between advances in the application of nanotechnology and its impact on health. Due to the extensive and highly diversified use of nanomaterials in industry, the number of workers exposed is also difficult to estimate. While little is known about the health and environmental impact of these new materials, it is likely that workers will be among the first to experience high rates of exposure.

According to ILO, the need to share information about emerging risks is “vital, at both the national and international levels.” ILO notes that “[t]he study of nanomaterials, for example, illustrates the importance of knowledge sharing in the development and application of new technologies, whereby the identification and assessment of associated hazards and risks need to be considered and communicated at a stage before widespread application in industry.”