For Jeffrey Miller, growing up on a farm in New Athens, Illinois, meant being exposed to pesticides, welding fumes and spray paint. What became everyday life would later define Miller's experience as a young adult, and would later manifest itself as organic dust toxic syndrome.
Developing hypersensitivity pneumonitis pushed Miller towards a degree in agriculture engineering. While studying agriculture, safety and health at the University of Iowa, Miller would find his purpose: helping people.
Miller’s job as a certified industrial hygienist (CIH) has led him across the globe – to the outskirts of Idaho, the halfway islands of Marshall Islands, the Alyeska pipelines and even to Saudi Arabia – but time and time again he was reminded of the occupational health dangers affecting those working in gruesome jobs.
OccSaviors, an occupational health ecosystem founded by Miller, is turning to non-fungible tokens (NFT) and distributed ledger technology via the Hedera blockchain in an effort to increase awareness and education about occupational health hazards.
“There’s no system to tie everything together,” Miller told CoinDesk. “There’s no system in place to allow employees to track down their own employee exposure histories.”
According to the most recent report published by the Board for Global EHS Credentialing, a nonprofit organization, there are only 6,849 active certified industrial hygienists (CIH) worldwide, with a majority concentrated in the U.S.
Even with the resources behind the Occupational and Safety Health Administration (OSHA) in the U.S., “there’s just not enough help,” Miller said, including the need for better documentation methods to help future employees avoid exposure on the job.
OccSaviors is looking to tell the stories of those who have been affected in the past with the goal of relaying their experiences to those in the present. Fundamentally, the two-person team, consisting of Miller and developer Vinoth Gurusamy, looks to build “compassion with those who might not know” of the dangers that come with working in certain jobs.
The first “Radioactive” collection will feature 4,000 unique NFTs that will operate on a refer-to-earn basis. Miller says the idea behind this was to drive contributor participation, which will include feedback from specialists and consultants. Contributors may also include those who provide legal services and even those who may have had experience with ventilation controls or been exposed to a certain health hazard, he added.
Each of the OccSaviors NFTs will be tailored to a user and will feature an attached poem with a contributor’s specific story. Miller says the first iteration of NFTs will touch on the Radium Girls, a group of women who worked in factories painting watchdials and who suffered radium poisoning during the early 1920s. OccSavior NFT holders also have the option of creating their own message or poem, which will then be voted on by those within the community.
With a growing NFT ecosystem, Miller says Hedera was the best blockchain to build on because of its fast transaction speeds and its use of smart contracts.
Smart contracts in particular drew Miller to the blockchain. In a way, it establishes certain parameters, such as anonymity.
“Depending on how the information is gathered, it’s important to make sure it's confidential because they are medical records,” Miller said. “In our case, they’re exposure records.”
OccSaviors aims to be a decentralized system for employees to keep track of their own exposure history while also having the ability to take it with them if they so choose. The platform also hopes to break outside of the crypto ecosystem, and wants to be a tool that can be used by any worker anywhere in the world.
To date, there are 136 million chemical substances, but only 500 exposure limits in place. Resources too, are scarce, Miller added.
“[OccSaviors] is a disruptor and we’re trying to do it in a way that’s fair for everyone,” Miller said.
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