National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health

Last updated
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
NIOSH logo.svg
Agency overview
FormedDecember 29, 1970;50 years ago (1970-12-29)
Jurisdiction Federal government of the United States
Headquarters Washington, D.C.
Employees~1,200
Agency executive
Parent department Department of Health and Human Services
Parent agency Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Website cdc.gov/niosh/

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH, /ˈnɒʃ/ ) is the United States federal agency responsible for conducting research and making recommendations for the prevention of work-related injury and illness. NIOSH is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Despite its name, it is not part of the National Institutes of Health. Its current director is John Howard.

Contents

NIOSH is headquartered in Washington, D.C., with research laboratories and offices in Cincinnati, Ohio; Morgantown, West Virginia; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Denver, Colorado; Anchorage, Alaska; Spokane, Washington; and Atlanta, Georgia. [1] NIOSH is a professionally diverse organization with a staff of 1,200 people representing a wide range of disciplines including epidemiology, medicine, industrial hygiene, safety, psychology, engineering, chemistry, and statistics.

The Occupational Safety and Health Act, signed by President Richard M. Nixon on December 29, 1970, created both NIOSH and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). NIOSH was established to help ensure safe and healthful working conditions by providing research, information, education, and training in the field of occupational safety and health. NIOSH provides national and world leadership to prevent work-related illness, injury, disability, and death by gathering information, conducting scientific research, and translating the knowledge gained into products and services. [2] Although NIOSH and OSHA were established by the same Act of Congress, the two agencies have distinct and separate responsibilities. [3]

Strategic goals

NIOSH abides by a strategic plan for meeting institutional goals and allocating resources. The institute has seven overarching goals:

  • Reduce occupational cancer, cardiovascular disease, adverse reproductive outcomes, and other chronic diseases.
  • Reduce occupational hearing loss.
  • Reduce occupational immune, infectious, and dermal disease.
  • Reduce occupational musculoskeletal disorders.
  • Reduce occupational respiratory disease.
  • Improve workplace safety to reduce traumatic injuries.
  • Promote safe and healthy work design and well-being.
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, NIOSH Strategic Plan: FYs 2019–2023 [4]

These goals are supported by NIOSH's program portfolio. The portfolio categorizes Institute efforts into 10 broad industrial sectors and their intersection with the 7 strategic goals. [5] There are an abundance of specialty programs across diverse topics such as the Center for Maritime Safety and Health Studies, [6] the Center for Occupational Robotics Research, [7] and more. [8] In addition to these intramural programs, NIOSH funds many extramural research projects. [9]

Authority

Unlike its counterpart, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, NIOSH is not a regulatory agency. It does not issue safety and health standards that are enforceable under U.S. law. Rather, NIOSH's authority under the Occupational Safety and Health Act [29 CFR § 671] is to "develop recommendations for health and safety standards", to "develop information on safe levels of exposure to toxic materials and harmful physical agents and substances", and to "conduct research on new safety and health problems". NIOSH may also "conduct on-site investigations (Health Hazard Evaluations) to determine the toxicity of materials used in workplaces" and "fund research by other agencies or private organizations through grants, contracts, and other arrangements". [10]

NIOSH was intended to function as an agency at the same level as, and independent from, the Centers for Disease Control. NIOSH was initially placed within the Centers for Disease Control in order to obtain administrative support from the Centers until NIOSH was ready to assume those responsibilities for itself; the Centers, however, never relinquished control and the original intent of the Act never came to pass.[ citation needed ]

Also, pursuant to its authority granted to it by the Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977, NIOSH may "develop recommendations for mine health standards for the Mine Safety and Health Administration", "administer a medical surveillance program for miners, including chest X‑rays to detect pneumoconiosis (black lung disease) in coal miners", "conduct on-site investigations in mines similar to those authorized for general industry under the Occupational Safety and Health Act; and "test and certify personal protective equipment and hazard-measurement instruments". [10]

Products and publications

NIOSH research covers a wide range of fields. The knowledge obtained through intramural and extramural research programs is used to develop products and publication offering innovative solutions for a wide range of work settings. Some of the publications produced by NIOSH include:

Education and Research Centers

Staff members at the NIOSH research center in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1978. NIOSH Health Hazard Evaluation Program staff in 1978.jpg
Staff members at the NIOSH research center in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1978.

NIOSH Education and Research Centers are multidisciplinary centers supported by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health for education and research in the field of occupational health. Through the centers, NIOSH supports academic degree programs and research opportunities, as well as continuing education for OSH professionals. [15] The ERCs, distributed in regions across the United States, establish academic, labor, and industry research partnerships. [16] The research conducted at the centers is related to the National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) established by NIOSH. [17]

Founded in 1977, NIOSH ERCs are responsible for nearly half of post-baccalaureate graduates entering occupational health and safety fields. The ERCs focus on industrial hygiene, occupational health nursing, occupational medicine, occupational safety, and other areas of specialization. [18] At many ERCs, students in specific disciplines have their tuition paid in full and receive additional stipend money. ERCs provide a benefit to local businesses by offering reduced price assessments to local businesses.

History

Establishment

NIOSH occupied the Robert A. Taft Center as its main facility in 1976. It had opened in 1954 for the U.S. Public Health Service's environmental health division, which had been transferred to the Environmental Protection Agency and had moved to a new facility. Taft Laboratory Cincinnati aerial.png
NIOSH occupied the Robert A. Taft Center as its main facility in 1976. It had opened in 1954 for the U.S. Public Health Service's environmental health division, which had been transferred to the Environmental Protection Agency and had moved to a new facility.

NIOSH's earliest predecessor was the U.S. Public Health Service Office of Industrial Hygiene and Sanitation, established in 1914. It went through several name changes, most notably becoming the Division of Industrial Hygiene and later the Division of Occupational Health. [19] [20] Its headquarters were established in Washington, D.C. in 1918, and field stations in Salt Lake City in 1949, and in Cincinnati in 1950. [20] [21]

NIOSH was created by the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 [22] and began operating in May 1971. [20] It was originally part of the Health Services and Mental Health Administration, and was transferred into what was then called the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in 1973. [22] NIOSH's initial headquarters were located in Rockville, Maryland. [21]

Prior to 1976, NIOSH's Cincinnati operations occupied space at three locations in Downtown Cincinnati, and rented space at 5555 Ridge Avenue in the Pleasant Ridge neighborhood. [23] In 1976, staff at the Downtown locations were relocated to the Robert A. Taft Center in the Columbia-Tusculum neighborhood, which the Environmental Protection Agency was vacating to occupy the new Andrew W. Breidenbach Environmental Research Center elsewhere in Cincinnati. [23] [24] The Taft Center had opened in 1954 for the PHS as the Robert A. Taft Sanitary Engineering Center, [25] [26] named for the then-recently deceased Senator Robert A. Taft, [27] and the center had become part of the newly formed Environmental Protection Agency in 1970. [24] [25]

The 5555 Ridge Avenue building had been constructed during 1952–1954 and was initially the headquarters and manufacturing plant of Disabled American Veterans. [28] PHS had leased space in the 5555 Ridge Avenue building beginning in 1962. [29] By 1973 the entire building was leased by the federal government, and in 1982 it was purchased outright by the PHS. In 1987 it was renamed the Alice Hamilton Laboratory for Occupational Safety and Health, after occupational health pioneer Alice Hamilton. [28]

The Appalachian Laboratory for Occupational Respiratory Diseases, which had been created within the PHS in 1967 to focus on black lung disease research, was incorporated into NIOSH, and its building in Morgantown, West Virginia was opened in 1971. [30] As of 1976, NIOSH also continued to operate its Salt Lake City facility. [23]

Later history

NIOSH absorbed the Bureau of Mines' research activities in 1996, along with its facilities in the Pittsburgh area dating from 1910. NIOSH Pittsburgh Laboratory aerial.jpg
NIOSH absorbed the Bureau of Mines' research activities in 1996, along with its facilities in the Pittsburgh area dating from 1910.

In 1981, the headquarters was moved from Rockville to Atlanta to co-locate with CDC headquarters. [21] [31] The headquarters moved back to Washington, D.C. in 1994, though offices were maintained in Atlanta. [32]

When the U.S. Bureau of Mines was closed in 1996, its research activities were transferred to NIOSH along with two facilities in the Pittsburgh suburb of Bruceton, Pennsylvania, and in Spokane, Washington. The Pittsburgh campus dated from the beginning of the Bureau of Mines in 1910, and contained the historic Experimental Mine and Mine Roof Simulator, while the Spokane facility dated from 1951. NIOSH preserved the administrative independence of these activities by placing them in the new Office of Mine Safety and Health Research. [19]

In 1977, NIOSH had ten regional offices throughout the country. [33] These were closed over time, and by 1989 there were regional offices only in Denver and Boston. [34] The Alaska Field Station in Anchorage, Alaska was established in 1991 in response to the state having the highest work-related fatality rate, with Senator Ted Stevens playing a role in its establishment. It later become known as the Alaska Pacific Regional Office, and in 2015, the Denver, Anchorage, and non-mining Spokane staff joined into the Western States Division. [35] [36]

In 1996, a large addition was built to the Morgantown facility containing safety engineering and bench laboratories. [30] In 2015, funding was approved for a new facility in Cincinnati to replace the Taft and Hamilton buildings, which were considered to be obsolete. [37] A location for the new facility in the Avondale neighborhood was announced in 2017, [38] [39] and proposals from architectural and engineering firms were solicited in 2019. [40]

Directors

The following people were Director of NIOSH: [22]

Other history

In 2001, NIOSH was called upon to help clean up Capitol Hill buildings after the 2001 anthrax attacks. [41]

See also

Related Research Articles

Noise An unwanted sound

Noise is unwanted sound considered unpleasant, loud or disruptive to hearing. From a physics standpoint, noise is indistinguishable from desired sound, as both are vibrations through a medium, such as air or water. The difference arises when the brain receives and perceives a sound.

Coal dust is a fine powdered form of coal, which is created by the crushing, grinding, or pulverizing of coal. Because of the brittle nature of coal, coal dust can be created during mining, transportation, or by mechanically handling coal. It is a form of fugitive dust.

Occupational hygiene Management of workplace health hazards

Occupational hygiene is the anticipation, recognition, evaluation, control, and confirmation of protection from hazards at work that may result in injury, illness, or affect the well being of workers. These hazards or stressors are typically divided into the categories biological, chemical, physical, ergonomic and psychosocial. The risk of a health effect from a given stressor is a function of the hazard multiplied by the exposure to the individual or group. For chemicals, the hazard can be understood by the dose response profile most often based on toxicological studies or models. Occupational hygienists work closely with toxicologists for understanding chemical hazards, physicists for physical hazards, and physicians and microbiologists for biological hazards Environmental and occupational hygienists are considered experts in exposure science and exposure risk management. Depending on an individual's type of job, a hygienist will apply their exposure science expertise for the protection of workers, consumers and/or communities.

Occupational hazard Hazard experienced in the workplace

An occupational hazard is a hazard experienced in the workplace. Occupational hazards can encompass many types of hazards, including chemical hazards, biological hazards (biohazards), psychosocial hazards, and physical hazards. In the United States, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) conduct workplace investigations and research addressing workplace health and safety hazards resulting in guidelines. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) establishes enforceable standards to prevent workplace injuries and illnesses. In the EU a similar role is taken by EU-OSHA.

The Global Environmental and Occupational Health e-Library or GeoLibrary is a database of occupational safety and health and environmental health training materials and practice tools. The library is divided into three sections: Environmental Health; Occupational Health and Safety; and a specialty library on Road Safety at Work.

The National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) is a partnership program developed by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). The program was founded in 1996 to provide a framework for research collaborations among universities, large and small businesses, professional societies, government agencies, and worker organizations. Together these parties identify issues in the field of workplace safety and health that require immediate attention based on the number of workers affected, the seriousness of the hazard, and the likelihood that new safety information and approaches can effect a change.

Prevention through design (PtD), also called safety by design usually in Europe, is the concept of applying methods to minimize occupational hazards early in the design process, with an emphasis on optimizing employee health and safety throughout the life cycle of materials and processes. It is a concept and movement that encourages construction or product designers to "design out" health and safety risks during design development. The concept supports the view that along with quality, programme and cost; safety is determined during the design stage. It increases the cost-effectiveness of enhancements to occupational safety and health.

John F. (Jack) Finklea was a physician, professor, researcher, and public health administrator notable for his leadership of the Environmental Protection Agency's National Center for Environmental Research and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

John Howard (NIOSH director)

John Jackson Howard is a physician, professor, and public health administrator. He served a 6-year term as the director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and was appointed to be a special coordinator to respond to the health effects of the September 11 attacks. In this role, Howard advocated for rescue workers, introducing a program to provide screening, medical exams, and treatment for them. In 2009, Howard was again appointed as director of NIOSH and as World Trade Center Programs coordinator for HHS. In 2011, Howard became the Administrator of the World Trade Center Health Program. In 2016, he became the first person to be appointed to a third 6-year term as NIOSH director.

NIOSH Education and Research Centers are multidisciplinary centers supported by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health for education and research in the field of occupational health. Through the centers, NIOSH supports academic degree programs, research, continuing education, and outreach. The ERCs, distributed in regions across the United States, establish academic, labor, and industry research partnerships. The research conducted at the centers is related to the National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) established by NIOSH.

Physical hazard Hazard due to a physical agent

A physical hazard is an agent, factor or circumstance that can cause harm with contact. They can be classified as type of occupational hazard or environmental hazard. Physical hazards include ergonomic hazards, radiation, heat and cold stress, vibration hazards, and noise hazards. Engineering controls are often used to mitigate physical hazards.

Radiation dose reconstruction

Radiation dose reconstruction refers to the process of estimating radiation doses that were received by individuals or populations in the past as a result of particular exposure situations of concern. The basic principle of radiation dose reconstruction is to characterize the radiation environment to which individuals have been exposed using available information. In cases where radiation exposures can not be fully characterized based on available data, default values based on reasonable scientific assumptions can be used as substitutes. The extent to which the default values are used depends on the purpose of the reconstruction(s) being undertaken.

The Mountain & Plains Education and Research Center is one of eighteen Education and Research Centers funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). NIOSH and the NIOSH Education and Research Centers are affiliated with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Occupational safety and health Field concerned with the safety, health and welfare of people at work

Occupational safety and health (OSH), also commonly referred to as occupational health and safety (OHS), occupational health, or occupational safety, is a multidisciplinary field concerned with the safety, health, and welfare of people at occupation. These terms also refer to the goals of this field, so their use in the sense of this article was originally an abbreviation of occupational safety and health program/department etc.

Total Worker Health is a trademarked strategy defined as policies, programs, and practices that integrate protection from work-related safety and health hazards with promotion of injury and illness prevention efforts to advance worker well-being. It was conceived and is funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Total Worker Health is tested and developed in six Centers of Excellence for Total Worker Health in the United States.

The Office of Mine Safety and Health Research (OMSHR) is a division within the United States' National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) devoted towards the elimination of mining fatalities, injuries, and illnesses through research and prevention. As a part of NIOSH, OMSHR is grouped under the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), within the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). The work done by OMSHR was originally conducted by the United States Bureau of Mines, which was founded in 1910. Following the dissolution of the U.S. Bureau of Mines in 1995-1996, The Safety and Health Program was transferred to the United States Department of Energy on an interim basis. In 1997, OMSHR was created when the responsibilities of mine safety and health research was permanently transferred to NIOSH.

The New York and New Jersey Education and Research Center is one of eighteen Education and Research Centers funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). The NYNJERC was established in 1978.

Andrew W. Breidenbach Environmental Research Center

The Andrew W. Breidenbach Environmental Research Center in Cincinnati is the second-largest research and development facility of the United States Environmental Protection Agency. It specializes in water research, bioremediation, and pollution prevention.

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The Environmental Health Divisions was a unit of the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) that focused on environmental health. It existed in various forms from 1913 until 1970, and had several other names earlier in its history, including the Office of Stream Pollution Investigations and Division of Sanitary Engineering Services. It is the primary direct predecessor of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

References

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Further reading