The American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA), the association for scientists and professionals “committed to preserving and ensuring occupational and environmental health and safety (OEHS) in the workplace and community,” announced Nov. 8 the availability of free resources to support rail operators in reducing health risks associated with work conducted on railroads.
Rail operators can find free resources or information on how to hire an OEHS professional, traditionally known as industrial hygienists, at a new website, which includes fact sheets, articles and journal studies that address ways in which OEHS professionals help mitigate occupational health risks, such as heart and lung problems, cancer, emotional stress and mental illness.
OEHS professionals, AIHA says, work alongside railroad safety experts to reduce health risks to workers. “Improved worker health and safety can reduce absenteeism and decrease turnover rates, thus resulting in a more efficient and productive workforce,” the association added.
“The rail industry plays a crucial role in our economy. OEHS professionals work to protect the company’s most valuable resource–employees–by evaluating and assessing risk and keeping workers safe, which ultimately impacts the industry’s bottom line,” says AIHA Board President Donna S. Heidel, CIH, FAIHA.
The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has specific regulations to ensure safety measures are met. However, AIHA says, freight rail workers may run into accidents that could lead to long term health issues. Potential hazards may include exposure to diesel exhaust, coal dust particles, noise from trains, fires and train derailments. OEHS professionals are trained to evaluate exposures, including noise and air contaminants, such as inhalable carcinogens, welding fumes or solvent vapor, and determine if health risks exist at levels present.
“At CSX, the health and safety of our employees is the company’s highest priority,” said CSX Manager of Industrial Hygiene and AIHA member, LaTonya Edwards, CIH, CSP. “Should an employee experience exposure to a hazard in the workplace, we are available, along with a third-party toxicologist, to assess the exposure and offer fact-based information to emergency response personnel. In most cases, our work helps avoid unnecessary medical testing and procedures. It is essential to let our employees know that the company is working on their behalf to ensure their well-being.”