Industry Leaders Share Views on State of Occupational Medicine, Workplace Safety

T. Warner Hudson III, M.D.

T. Warner Hudson III, M.D., was installed as the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine’s (ACOEM) president for 2011-2012 during the college’s 96th annual membership meeting in Washington, D.C.

 In his acceptance remarks, Heading in the Right Direction: An ACOEM Travel Guide, Dr. Hudson compared his recent trip to Antarctica with the journey of occupational and environmental medicine (OEM). Dr. Hudson explored the diversity of the specialty in terms of practice settings, expertise, and delivery (i.e., as public health officers, and experts in emergency preparedness, MROs). Dr. Hudson also noted that despite this diversity, OEM physicians are united in their roles as primary, secondary, and tertiary clinical preventionists as well as population preventionists.

Occupational physicians are now more than ever front-line clinicians who care for the health of millions of employees, their dependents, and retirees, he said.

He also noted that ACOEM and OEM face numerous challenges including:

  • the need for training and funding;
  • meeting market demands and providing the educational resources to fill jobs with physicians qualified in OEM;
  • continuing to develop the best evidence-based practices and health outcomes in ways that change practitioner behavior;
  • addressing the unpredictability and “re-jiggering” of health care reform by focusing on underlying causes;
  • becoming even more involved in the public policy arena;
  • continuing to help build a model that pays for prevention and good health outcomes in addition to illness care;
  • building stronger partnerships with federal government health and safety agencies;
  • working together in the most coordinated and effective ways possible over the next five to 10 years to reinvent OEM physicians as population health leaders and preventions;
  • remembering that what OEM physicians do is for those who work, and to further help to make work something that fosters health, safety, and the environment.

Dr. Hudson is the medical director of the Occupational Health Facility at the University of California Los Angeles. He is on the medical staff at Ronald Reagan Medical Center and is responsible for occupational health for UCLA Campus and Health System employees at the Westwood and Santa Monica campuses.

Other officers installed for one-year are President-elect, Karl Auerbach, M.D., and Vice President Ronald R. Loeppke, M.D…. Members installed as directors for three-year terms (2011- 2014) are Drs. Alan Engelberg, Dean Gean, Amanda Trimpey, and Mark Taylor, who fulfill the new position of Young Physician Director.

NIOSH and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) observed their 40th anniversaries on April 28. The following is excerpted from a longer message. Refer to .html

The Second 40 Years: From the Desk of John Howard, M.D., Director, National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health

“After 40 years, one can take the measure of an organization with some degree of confidence in assessing how well it has carried out its assigned and ongoing mission: Has it been sufficiently flexible to meet inevitable social, economic, and technological changes? Has it provided the benefits to society that it was intended to provide? Is it well-positioned to meet ongoing changes that the next 10, 20, or 40 years will bring?

“We at NIOSH are proud of our record, which spans many dramatic changes in the nature of work in the U.S. since the year of Super Bowl V, Apollo 14, and the founding of NASDAQ. NIOSH worked closely with its diverse partners in the start-up years of the early 1970s to address the priority safety and health needs of an economy driven at that time by manufacturing. Through the decade of the 1970s, NIOSH’s research helped to reduce hazardous exposures to asbestos, lead, benzene, vinyl chloride, and other substances produced or used every day in factories, plants, and steel mills… “…For all of our progress, many of the traditional hazards of the 20th-century work-place still persist. Research remains vital for eliminating coal workers’ pneumoconiosis, silicosis, work-related hearing loss, motor vehicle fatalities on the job, lead poisoning, and other legacy problems. At the same time, new concerns demand our attention so that the mistakes that occurred too often in the last century are not repeated, such as the rush to use new technologies, materials, and practices without first understanding their implications for worker safety and health. Nanotechnology, work organization, and safe green jobs are examples of those areas where NIOSH has established strategic research programs.

“We also face the challenge and opportunity of helping to shape a new business paradigm for the 21st Century. In this model, the prevention of work-related injuries and illnesses is correctly counted as an asset to business rather than a cost. We are working closely with partners to develop this business case for safety and health, predicated on the fact that safe, healthy, and secure workplaces are efficient workplaces and integral to profitability and economic growth. Having an able and motivated workforce is critical to success in today’s environment, as the economy recovers, as high-quality jobs are created, as the public and private sectors develop strategies for containing healthcare costs, as the baby boomer generation begins to retire, as small businesses are nurtured, and as the workforce becomes more diverse.

“Predictions are difficult, but I am confident that the investments we make now will pay great dividends for society over the coming years and decades and that the next 40 years will be as challenging and gratifying for NIOSH as the last 40 years were.”

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