DOI Medical Surveillance and Exposure Assessment Action Plan
Decisions are made every day that are intended to protect DOI employees from the effects of exposure to hazardous chemical, physical, and biological agents in the workplace. Implementation of exposure control and management programs, such as medical surveillance, can strain limited personnel and fiscal resources. Exposure assessment is the key to effective and cost efficient occupational health management action.
The Office of Occupational Safety and Health has taken an initial step toward implementing a system for systematic evaluation of worker exposure to hazardous agents in the workplace. Information gained through the process will provide the Department, Bureaus, and individual facilities a rational basis for management of medical surveillance and other worker health decision making. As a product of this work, a catalogue of exposure characterizations, indexed by task and agent combinations, will be compiled. The catalogue will be a useful tool for initial assessment of the health risk associated with similar processes at other facilities.
The process leverages simple information gathering and screening techniques, such as on-site observation of processes and tasks, interview of workers and managers, and review of process documentation, control systems, and existing exposure records, to gather basic data that will be used by an industrial hygienist to describe a worker’s exposure during the performance of a particular task, and then characterize it as either acceptable or unacceptable. Recommendations for participation in medical surveillance will be generated, along with a prioritized list of health risks that can be used by organization management to effectively deploy its resources to implement controls and manage exposure. Where there is uncertainty in an assessment of exposure, a prioritized list for further information gathering will be generated, again, so that resources may be best allocated.