142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition

Annual Meeting Recordings are now available for purchase

Alice Hamilton and The Illinois Survey 1910-1911: Shifting paradigms in documenting workplace disease

142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition (November 15 - November 19, 2014): http://www.apha.org/events-and-meetings/annual
Monday, November 17, 2014 : 12:46 PM - 1:02 PM

Leslie A. Nickels, PhD , Research Translation Office, National Institue for Occupational Safety and Health, Washington, DC
This presentation is an historical biography to understand the paradigm shift in occupational health in the early part of the 20th century and its legacy in occupational health practice in the 21st century.  Alice Hamilton, MD a physician and activist devoted her life to addressing human rights and social justice issues of workers in the United States. Hamilton employed a framework for associating and documenting workplace exposure and disease. In 1909, she made a commitment to the identification, control, and prevention of hazardous exposures in workplaces. As the principal investigator on the first comprehensive study of work and disease in the U.S., The Illinois Survey, her work became the model for characterizing workplace exposures which informs practice and is the foundation of the disciplines of industrial hygiene, occupational medicine and toxicology in the U.S.

Hamilton described the work as a “pioneering, exploration of an unknown field.” The commission overseeing the Illinois Survey was charged with defining and finding poisonous occupations and gaining access to workplaces to conduct exposure assessments. Hamilton’s knowledge of languages, and skills in community organizing and persuasion enabled her to access almost every workplace she approached, additionally, she never left a facility without reporting her findings and recommendations to the manager and getting some assurance that conditions would change. Her research skills resulted in the first comprehensive report in the U.S. on “the causes and conditions relating to diseases of occupations”.  During this period the social dimension for occupation was added to the cognitive dimensions of illness.

Learning Areas:

Occupational health and safety
Provision of health care to the public
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
Discuss how historical approaches to assessing and documenting workplace exposures and health influenced contemporary approaches.

Keyword(s): Community Health Workers and Promoters, Occupational Health and Safety

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: My primary research interests are in training intervention effectiveness for underserved populations and the organizations that employ or represent at risk workers with a focus on translational research; community based participatory and action research; the lived experience as curriculum; and the history of occupational health.This work furthers the research conducted and presented on history of occupational health.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.