Vulnerable or Underserved Populations
Vulnerable populations are defined in the Framework Document (Appendix A) as groups of workers who have biologic, social, or economic characteristics that place them at increased risk for work-related conditions or on whom inadequate data have been collected. They include disadvantaged minorities, disabled persons, low-wage workers, and non-English speakers for whom language or other barriers present health or safety risks. Undocumented workers also fall within this category. This evaluation committee uses the term “underserved populations” when referring to vulnerable populations.
The committee reviewed material submitted by the HHE Program in the form of an “evidence package” that describes the HHE Program’s legislative foundations, organizational structure and management, resources, activities, and outputs (NIOSH, 2007b). Contributions to improvements in worker health are summarized in the form of narratives related to specific workplace issues. Results of previous evaluations, and lists and examples of HHE Program reports are provided. HHE Program staff also responded during meetings and in writing to numerous questions from the committee and participated in a telephone conference with committee members to discuss HHE Program emergency response activities. Appendix B is a list of materials provided by the HHE Program to assist the evaluation process.
To deliberate its charge, the committee met four times. Two meetings were held in Washington, D.C. (September and December 2007), and two in Irvine, California (January and February 2008). The first three meetings included briefings from NIOSH and HHE Program staff and stakeholders. Meeting agendas, including names and affiliations of those who provided input, are given in Appendix C. Committee members discussed pertinent issues with several stakeholders on two panels representing the workplace and public sectors during the December 2007 meeting. In January 2008, the committee heard from stakeholders regarding four specific HHEs (NIOSH, 2004a, 2005b, 2005f, 2007i). Meetings were held on both the East and the West Coast to facilitate stakeholder participation and attendance. Subsets of the committee held numerous phone conferences and a meeting in Cincinnati, Ohio, to prepare the final report.