Nano in many industries
Nanotechnology is an enabling technology and thus relates to a variety of different professions. The mechanical and electrical engineering industries, and the chemical and the pharmaceutical industry deserve particular mentioning.
Similarly, nanotechnology enabled materials are already present in many products which are applied by craftsmen today. Nanomaterials can be found in plastics, coatings, paints, lacquers, micro chips, textiles, cosmetica or even in packagings of food products.
Consequently, not only technical professions but also the service sector, for instance retailers, financial and insurance businesses or technology consulting companies, have to become fit for the growing nanoworld.
Education and professional training needed
The rise of an emerging technology brings about several challenges in the business areas of production, processing and marketing of products. In order to tap the full potential of a novel technology, well-educated professionals are desperately needed.
Today, professional training and education take into account micro- and nanotechnologies only to a verly limited extent, and nanotechnologies are not present in most textbooks at secondary school level. There is thus a lot to be done.
Nano-education is presently taking place mostly at the academic level in Switzerland. Several Swiss universities offer courses relating to nanotechnologies.
Occupational health and safety
Emgering technologies can affect job conditions and occupational settings. This is equally true for occupational health and safety. In recent years, many of the well-established occupational safety measures have been tested and adapted to manufactured nanomaterials. These measures aim to reducing the potential exposure of workers to manufactured nanoparticles.
In Switzerland, the Swiss national accident insurance fund (Suva) is in charge of preventing occupational diseases. Suva has thus also been engaged with studying nanoparticles at the workplace. These activities strive to increase our understanding of the potential effects of nanoparticles on human health and to develop effective measures to protect the health of people at the workplace.