Woman sitting in front of laptop during meeting

CWP News | CWP

Expert Voices: Upcoming Renewal of the Advisory Board on Radiation and Worker Health

March 20, 2024

March 20, 2024

Created with Sketch. CWP

CWP News

Malcolm Nelson

By Malcolm Nelson, Former EEOICPA Ombudsman

A few weeks ago, I learned that the Advisory Board on Radiation and Worker Health, often referred to as the Board, was scheduled to terminate on March 22, 2024. I found this news concerning and reached out to inquire whether the Board would be rechartered. I was told that the Board’s charter is currently in the process of renewal. That is good news! The work of the Board is important; here’s more information on its history and mission.

The History of the Board

The Board was established by the President of the United States on December 7, 2000. Its purpose is to advise the president on a variety of policy and technical functions required to implement and manage the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act (EEOICPA). The functions of the Board include providing advice to the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HSS) on:

  • The development of rules regarding the methods used for completing radiation dose reconstructions.
  • The development of guidelines used to assess the likelihood that an employee’s cancer was caused by their work at a Department of Energy (DOE) or Atomic Weapons Employer (AWE) facility.
  • The development of procedures for adding additional classes of employees to the Special Exposure Cohort (SEC).
  • The scientific validity and quality of dose reconstruction efforts performed by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).
  • Whether there is a class of employees who should be added to the SEC.

The Board and EEOICPA

Over the years the Board has enhanced the administration of EEOICPA. For example, NIOSH conducts a dose reconstruction for each claim filed under EEOICPA that is determined to be a claim for a covered employee with cancer. The dose reconstruction analysis is the scientific process of estimating the probability that the employee’s workplace exposure to radiation caused the claimed cancer. As you might imagine, the development of rules on the methods for completing radiation dose reconstructions, as well as the scientific validity and quality of dose reconstructions can be technical and complex. And this is where the Board proves to be a valuable asset.

The Board members represent a balance of scientific, medical and worker points of view and they apply their knowledge and expertise in addressing the matters before them. Claimants are fortunate to have a broad range of qualified individuals to provide insightful advice, input and review on such scientific and technical matters.

The Board also plays an important role in the process of determining whether there is a class of employees who should be added to the SEC. Claims for covered employees who are members of the SEC seeking compensation for one of 22 specified cancers do not require the completion of a radiation dose reconstruction by NIOSH or a determination of the probability of causation. Therefore, the adding of a SEC can significantly impact a claim. In this regard, it is noteworthy that of the 167 recommendations made by the Board regarding the adding or denying of additional classes to the SEC, 98% of the Board’s recommendations were fully implemented.

Learn More about The Board

The value of the Board goes well beyond the technical advice and input it gives to the Secretary of HHS. As an added bonus, its work goes a long way in building confidence in this program. If you are pursuing a claim, you can be assured that rules and procedures were established with input from a broad range of independent perspectives provided by qualified individuals.

Board meetings are open to the public, and the documents, minutes, and meeting transcripts are posted on the Department of Health and Human Service’s website. This openness helps to foster confidence in the program, especially since the dose reconstruction analysis and the determination whether to add a SEC class can significantly impact the outcome of some claims. At the Board meetings I attended (or listened to), it was reassuring to listen to the members of the Board openly discuss complex issues. And during my time as the Ombudsman, I heard similar comments from claimants. Trust in the recommendations made by this Board was buoyed because rather than having to accept someone’s assurance that the matter was considered, you can listen to the Board’s past discussions (or read the transcript) and ascertain for yourself the extent to which the matter was discussed.

And a meeting of the Advisory Board on Radiation and Worker Health is scheduled for April 17, 2024 from 9:15 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. EDT. Find out more information at this link below; you can attend the meeting in-person or virtually using the information provided. Among the issues discussed at this meeting, I hope we are given an update on the Board’s charter renewal.

Sign up for the April 17th meeting here.

The Advisory Board on Radiation and Worker Health, made up of knowledgeable individuals, provides advice, input and review on some complex scientific issues. And in carrying out its duties, the Board generates confidence in the program. For those reasons, I hope that the process of renewing the Board is quickly finalized.

Do you have questions about filing or pursuing your claim? Contact us today – we’ll help you understand the process!

Please call our Outreach Help Center at 888.903.8989 or complete the form below so we can help you with your questions.