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December 7, 2004

The Honorable Elaine Chao
U.S. Department of Labor
200 Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington DC, 20210

RE: Support for NIOSH Fall Protection Research

Dear Dr. Howard:

On behalf of the 30,000 member safety, health and environmental (SH+E) professionals of the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE), I would like to express strong support for the fall protection research being proposed within the Division of Safety Research of the National Institute of Occupational Health (NIOSH).

The proposed research of the Protective Technology Branch, entitled “Effectiveness of wearable airbag technology for workplace fall protection,” has the potential of bringing to reality long-discussed personal protective devices to reduce the risk of fall-related impact-injury. It has the potential also to address the existing need for supplemental fall-protection of workers where traditional fall protection methods are not applicable or practical, including when ladders are used and in residential siding and roofing. This research can result in significant improvement of worker safety across many industries.

ASSE has a history of promoting fall-injury protection technology. Fifty years ago, the Society sponsored research with the U.S. Air Force that led to advances in fall protection belts and harnesses and were later realized in the

American National Standards. ASSE is particularly interested in seeing this research go forward because it is the Secretariat for the ASC Z359 Standard for Fall Protection, which addresses fall protection equipment and systems for climbing, man-riding, work positioning, fall arrest systems, rescue and evacuation and other fall hazard operations, excluding construction and demolition and sports activities.

As this research moves forward, we would hope that Dr. Simeonov, who leads the project, and the Division of Safety Research would keep the Z359 Committee informed of its progress. As you know, ASSE's members provide a wealth of knowledge and abilities in every area of occupational safety and health, including fall protection. If ASSE can be helpful in involving our members in the efforts of NIOSH to advance fall protection, we hope that you will call on us.

Again, with this project, NIOSH proves its value to the American people. It would be difficult for our members to undertake the jobs they do every day protecting workers and property without NIOSH's leadership as the only federal resource of research on occupational safety and health.


Gene Barfield, CSP



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