522 Qualitative risk management techniques in emergency preparedness and response to identify and reduce occupational risk factors

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Abstract

Introduction

Emergency response planners and responders have proper priorities when primarily focusing on life safety and incident stabilisation. Further down the list is the identification, prevention, and management of occupational risk factors for emergency preparedness, surveillance, and response personnel. There is a broad spectrum of potential chemical, biological, and physical exposures for occupations beyond first responders. Understanding and communicating these exposure scenarios and emergency response parameters is necessary for assessing and managing the occupational risk factors, but also for minimising public health consequences.

Methods

Control Banding is a qualitative risk assessment strategy for determining work-related risks to establish appropriate control solutions and deliver simplified risk communication. Banding strategies were initially developed for controlling bulk liquid and powder chemical hazards, but have since expanded to safety, nanomaterials, environmental, and multidisciplinary risk management applications. Banding strategies and processes were developed to provide a standardised and simplified framework to identify and reduce occupational risk factors for emergency preparedness and response personnel.

Result

The U.S. NIOSH Occupational Exposure Banding process is now available to assist in protecting emergency response personnel from hazardous material exposures for tens of thousands of chemicals lacking Occupational Exposure Limits. Banding strategy frameworks for emergency preparedness have also been applied to physical and biological exposures. This framework provides consistency for informed risk management decisions that assists in identifying emergency-related occupations and provides proven risk communication for the development of trainings and interventions.

Discussion

Emergency response scenarios include exposure potential for both noncommunicable and communicable work-related diseases. Therefore, medical and support personnel must be considered in multiple emergency preparedness parameters. The International Occupational Hygiene Association (IOHA) is seeking collaborations to develop and communicate trainings that increase awareness of these occupational risk factors and provide intervention techniques to increase response capacities and minimise public health consequences for emergency preparedness, surveillance, and response.

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