The British Occupational Hygiene Society (BOHS) is delighted to announce that its influential publication, the Annals of Occupational Hygiene, is celebrating its 60th volume at the beginning of 2016.
The Annals is one of the world’s leading, peer-reviewed scientific research journals in the field of recognising, quantifying, removing or controlling hazards and risks to health from work. BOHS and its publication are unique in their key focus on occupational hygiene i.e. the scientific discipline that protects people against the wide range of health risks that can arise from exposures at work. To influence standards of exposure and control remains central to the aims of BOHS and the Annals, and to this end, the Annals publishes original articles that explore:
- Recognition and quantification of exposure and risk, and their relationship
- Management and communication of risks
- Control techniques and development of standards of control
Over more than 50 years, the Annals has published research that focuses on not only improved control of workplace exposures, but control which is better focused on the causes of the disease – and is therefore more cost-effective. Specific and influential research has included:
- A seminal paper in 1960 on personal sampling which led to the modern approach to risk quantification for airborne substances in the workplace, worldwide
- Articles developing international methods of quantifying asbestos exposure in the 1970s and 1980s
- Influential papers from the 1970s to 1990s on the basis for control by local exhaust ventilation (LEV)
- Important articles during the 1970s to 1990s on the concept and instrumentation for methods of measurement of inhalable dust, which have led to better-targeted quantification of risk
- In 1998, a series of papers central to the early development of the control banding approach, which is now applied in the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Essentials regime, and other control banding approaches used worldwide
- In 2000, the paper which now underpins the HSE asbestos standard, which is widely applied worldwide
- In 2010, a series of key papers from US government agencies on diesel exhaust fume and its potential to cause cancer among exposed workers
Chief Editor of the Annals, Professor Noah Seixas, reflects on the milestone of the 60th volume: “Almost ten years ago, my predecessor, Trevor Ogden, wrote his ‘tour de force’ review of the first fifty volumes of the Annals, and in fact of of the history of occupational hygiene sciences (Ogden 2006), which I highly recommend to those interested in understanding the changes in our field, and in scientific publishing over the past several decades. Over the decade, in volumes 50 – 59, we’ve published almost 900 articles, including original research, reviews, commentaries and editorials on the subject of occupational hygiene. Our journal impact factor (JIF) has steadily risen from just over one in 2005, to better than two over the past several years.”
Both Ogden and Seixas have highlighted emerging technologies and methodologies that have developed to broaden the scope of the practice of occupational hygienists. Ogden, in 2006, noted the overall lack of studies that compared workplaces before and after recommended controls were introduced, while underlining that the subject was central to the role of occupational hygiene. Seixas identifies that new techniques and tools are broadening the scope of practice, requiring practitioners to explore emerging threats to health as the nature and environment of the workplace shifts.
Further, Seixas notes that the Annals must examine the substance of the articles published, and consider the continuing relevance of these papers to the changing nature of the science and practice of occupational health prevention. An analysis of words contained within the abstracts of all papers published over the decade, yielded a word cloud: one word – ‘exposure’ – dominates this picture, and indeed expresses much of what the Annals is about: understanding the process with which agents potentially hazardous to health reach individuals; the means of measuring these agents; and the effectiveness of measures to reduce or eliminate the risks associated.”
Regarding what the future may hold, Seixas mentions both recent and emerging workplace risks, such as musculoskeletal issues; sedentary jobs – part of the emerging metabolic syndromes and obesity epidemic – which require attention from occupational exposure assessors. And of course, to meet these needs, emerging technologies for assessing exposures are expanding the tool kit for occupational hygienists: for example, biomedical technologies such as metabolomics, proteomics and a wide range of exposure biomarkers are being developed, but need application in the occupational exposure realm.
Seixas concludes by saying: “I’m excited by new ways of understanding the role of work in the context of health and well-being, and the new ways in which I, and occupational hygiene, must adapt in order to remain relevant and effective. As we greet a new decade of the Annals of Occupational Hygiene, we can look back on our contributions with satisfaction, whilst also working to meet the new challenges and assure the continued success of our journal.”