IOM was founded in 1969 as an independent charity by the then National Coal Board (NCB). Based in Edinburgh, this newly formed scientific institute assumed responsibility for the ongoing Pneumoconiosis Field Research (PFR), a landmark study of the respiratory health of mineworkers.
The early years of IOM were inextricably bound up with the NCB and PFR, and IOM’s research into coal-mining and respiratory disease continued until about 1990. At this point, IOM became independent of British Coal and our research extended into other industries with a continuing focus on exposure to hazardous dusts and fibres such as crystalline silica, asbestos, asbestos substitutes and other mineral fibres. IOM built an extensive knowledge base in the toxicology of particles and fibres, including the influence of surface area, and this knowledge has remained relevant to this day, in our work in support of emerging technologies, such as those involving nanoparticles.
In 2000, as IOM’s consulting work continued to evolve, we established IOM Consulting Limited and opened additional offices in Chesterfield, London and Stafford. Services including Asbestos Consultancy, Occupational Hygiene, Occupational Health, Environmental Studies, Stress Management, Ergonomics, Human Sciences, Personal Protective Equipment, Health Impact Assessment, Expert Witness Services, Laboratory Analysis and Risk Assessment – all came to the fore.
Our Research Division also continued to flourish, as we delivered many collaborative projects with partners in academic institutions and government laboratories. In the last decade in particular, we have undertaken an increasing number of European Commission Framework Programme projects, many in the emerging field of nanotechnology.
As the organisation invested in growth, initiatives such as the launch of SAFENANO in 2006 and the establishment of a base in Singapore in 2012 demonstrated our commitment to extending the reach of our services both scientifically and geographically with IOM Singapore.
Looking ahead, we have a continuing commitment to the protection and improvement of health in the workplace and in the wider environment. There is still much to do to eliminate the health risks from well-known hazards in traditional industries, but there are also numerous emerging issues, such as the advent of new technologies where the health risks are less well understood, the still-escalating prevalence of stress in the workplace, and the implications of an ageing workforce. IOM is well equipped to address these challenges.