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June 9, 2014

NIOSH Releases The State of the National Initiative on Prevention through Design

Lynn L. Bergeson

Last month, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) released a report entitled The State of the National Initiative on Prevention through Design, which provides an overview of the progress and accomplishments of the Prevention through Design (PtD) initiative. The ultimate goal is to prevent or reduce occupational injuries, illnesses, or fatalities through the inclusion of prevention considerations into all designs that might impact workers. According to the report, NIOSH is planning several education modules, including one in Safe Nano Design. NIOSH intends to disseminate the modules through its stakeholders and university partners. The report notes that the NIOSH PtD Program and the NIOSH Nanotechnology Research Center (NTRC) collaborated with the State University New York at Albany, College of Nanoscale Science & Engineering to hold the “Safe Nano Design” workshop in August 2012. The purpose of the workshop was to develop guidance for the safe commercialization of nanotechnology products, resulting in guidelines for the safe synthesis of nanoparticles and associated products by means of a PtD approach.  The report states that the conference “illustrated application of PtD principles at the molecular level as well as during the process phase.  Nanomaterials can be designed to mitigate toxicity while maintaining functionality.  At the process level various approaches can be designed in to protect workers from exposure to hazardous chemicals, including nanomaterials.  Integrating the design efforts at the molecular and process levels may have an even greater impact on worker safety and health.”