DOEHRS – IH Is Opening Doors for Navy Industrial Hygienists

By Edward Robinson, Navy DOEHRS Program Manager

After an eighteen-month training and implementation effort, the Defense Occupational and Environmental Health Readiness System – Industrial Hygiene, (DOEHRS – IH) has been successfully introduced into the military healthcare system.

DOEHRS-IH is a web-based system that enables Navy industrial hygienists the ability to capture, analyze, and store exposure history of both military personnel and  Department of Defense civilians. It supports industrial hygiene and  environmental health decisions, field commanders in decision-making, and helps identify service personnel’s placement into medical surveillance programs based on individual exposure history.

“DOEHRS-IH will benefit the Military Health System through the improved tracking of health hazard training, improved operational and work task personnel readiness, and improved compliance with occupational health and safety federal laws and directives,” said Capt. Jon Nelson, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery (BUMED) Director for Safety and Occupational Health, who monitors trends in personnel health hazards and their associated costs. “These improvements will in turn translate into better health for our military and civilian workforce and significant future cost savings for the Department of Defense and the American taxpayer.”

The history of DOEHRS-IH can be traced to the Persian Gulf War in 1991. Service member complaints of inexplicable disorders and other health problems led   to a number of congressionally directed investigations into the underlying root causes of the "Gulf War Syndrome." In the extensive efforts to identify causality for this syndrome, clinical investigators became progressively more critical of the antiquated manner maintaining health records.

DOEHRS – IH is a major improvement not only to the management of personnel records, but serves as an example of the steps being taken to improve the lives of Sailors by tracking occupational exposures and insuring the health and safety of our workforce. Upon separation from government or military service, the exposure records will be available for lifetime tracking and, if necessary, follow-up.

“Although DOEHRS – IH is in its infancy, the resulting data capture over time will provide standardized information to assist not only field industrial hygienists but also enhance policy and resourcing decisions at the Department of Defense and Secretary of the Navy,” said Capt. Don Hagen, BUMED’s Deputy Assistant Chief for Installations and Logistics. “The bottom line is DOEHRS will be a critical piece of our effort to protect the health of Sailors, Marines and civilian workforce.”