The Index of Harm : A Measure for Comparing Occupational Risk Across Industries

by Kenneth A. Solomon, Stanley Charles Abraham

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Explores the implications and potential uses of an index-of-harm methodology for comparing occupational risk across industries. A preliminary comparison showed that at current average levels of radiation exposure and based on the apparently low International Commission of Radiological Protection (ICRP) estimates of the dose-harm relationship, the radiological "industry" appears to be less risky than mining; agriculture, forestry, and fisheries; construction; transportation; and manufacturing. The calculations were based on the risk effects of six occupational harms--three nonradiological (death, accidental injury, and disease or illness) and three radiological (radiation-induced somatic effects, genetic effects, and somatic effects on the fetus or embryo of pregnant women)--and on five different assumptions about the relative importance or degree of aversion of the six harms. The index of harm is a potentially useful tool in quantifying the benefits of reducing occupational risk.

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