At the virtual presentation, Andrew Bennett (AIOH Foundation Chair), with Prof Lin Fritschi (right) and Kate Lewkowski, Audiologist (left).
Project: Using a design thinking approach to create a unique digital tool to assess hearing loss risk from noise and ototoxic exposures.
This project will develop a prototype of a unique digital tool which workers and occupational health professionals could use to obtain feedback on noise exposure at work. Users are asked questions about the tasks they do in a usual day at work and the answers are linked to a database which relates each task with a noise level. Users receive information about how much noise they were exposed to and how they can reduce their risk of hearing damage. The prototype targets welders and the plan is to expand it to other occupations if this prototype is successful. The tool is powered by OccIDEAS, an online international assessment method developed in Australia.
The project leader is Professor Lin Fritschi - John Curtin Distinguished Professor in Epidemiology and a Public Health Physician who has led many large case-control and cohort studies investigating occupational hazards. She is particularly interested in improving the way we assess historical exposure to chemicals at work and has developed a web-based application (OccIDEAS) to assist in this task. Lin will be assisted in this project by Kate Lewkowski who holds degrees in audiology, computer science/ mathematics and public health and has extensive clinical and epidemiological research experience.
At the virtual presentation, Andrew Bennett (Chair), Philip Hibbs (Director) and Jaclyn Smith (Cancer Council WA Grants Coordinator).
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.
At the virtual presentation, Andrew Bennett (Chair), Philip Hibbs (Director) and Mrs Jane Whitelaw, Dr Jennifer Hines and Ms Linda Apthorpe.
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.