AMSJ » Hygienists announce grants program

Hygienists announce grants program

Australian dollars

The Australian Institute of Occupational Hygienists (AIOH) Foundation has recently announced the recipients of its first-round project grants.

The grants have been awarded by the Foundation to organisations who submitted applications in which they described projects that would help achieve the foundation’s purpose of promoting the principles of occupational hygiene in the prevention and control of occupational diseases in Australia workplaces.

The organisations include:

Cancer Council Western Australia

The funds will be used as part of the KNOW Workplace Cancer Program to develop, disseminate and evaluate a targeted and engaging digital silica dust campaign for workers in the Australian artificial stone industry. Artificial stone is an increasingly popular building material that is used primarily in the fabrication of kitchen and bathroom bench tops, but it’s high silica content has been responsible for the recent re-emergence of acute silicosis in Australia. An animated infographic will outline where silica dust can be encountered in the workplace, who is at risk and what controls are available to reduce the risks, to subsequently decrease exposure to silica dust and the risk of silica-related lung cancer for workers within the artificial stone industry in Australia.

University of Wollongong

The Bushfires during the Summer of 2019/20 highlighted the lack of an appropriate respiratory protection program for Rural Fire Service (RFS) firefighters. In July, the NSW RFS released a tender document for the provision of respiratory protective equipment (RPE), with half face P2 respirators required for most frontline operations. However, the efficacy of P2, or other RPE used as the main exposure control measure for RFS volunteers against bushfire emissions containing highly toxic and carcinogenic substances such as PAH’s and nanoparticles, has not been evaluated. Previous studies by The University of Wollongong have demonstrated the poor performance of some commonly used RPE against other thermally generated particles. This AIOH Foundation Grant will enable  extension of this work to evaluate efficacy of RPE against bushfire emissions. Respirator filtration efficiency will be evaluated for inhalable particulates, PAH’s and nanoparticles. The findings of this study will inform the RFS and volunteers of the limitations in selection of respiratory protection to control exposure to bushfire emissions and enable better management of the health risk for RFS personnel. It will also contribute to manufacturers’ knowledge in the design and selection of respirator filters for use against bushfire emissions and the protection of human health, and will assist firefighters in the selection of fit-for-purpose respiratory protection.

National Acoustic Laboratories

This project will apply an innovative ‘design thinking’ approach to create a new digital tool to assess hearing loss risk from noise and ototoxic exposures. The aim of the tool is to help occupational hygienists, audiologists, and others to estimate the risk associated with a wide range of workplace tasks and activities via an intuitive interface. NAL will consult with the intended audience  to reach a thorough understanding of who will benefit from the tool, and how they are likely to use it. With this insight, NAL will produce a minimum viable product of the tool and observe how users interact with it in simulated real-world scenarios. This feedback will be used to refine the tool’s features, maximise its usefulness and optimize its user interface.

AIOH stated: “We look forward to partnering with these organisations over the next several months and seeing how these projects make a difference to Australian workers.

“The successful applicants were selected from a very strong field and we thank all applicants for their efforts.

“We also thank our generous donors who can now see the funds being put to work.”

More information about the projects or donation opportunities can be found at AIOH website.

The AIOH Foundation has the singular purpose of promote the principles of occupational hygiene in the prevention and control of occupational diseases in Australian workplaces. Part of the rationale for the Foundation’s establishment by the AIOH is that the understanding of these critical principles of occupational hygiene, namely anticipation, recognition, evaluation and control of environmental workplace hazards is not well understood in many industries. Their widespread application will, therefore, result in great advances in the prevention and control of workplace diseases in Australia.

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