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NIOSH Essay, Research Paper

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the

Occupational Safety an Health Administration (OSHA) were established by the

Occupational Safety and Health Act passed by congress in 1970. NIOSH is a part

of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and is the only federally funded and

controlled division responsible for conducting research and making

recommendations for the prevention of work related illnesses and injuries. It is

important to understand the OSHA and NIOSH are two separate agencies. OSHA is

housed under the Department of Labor and is responsible for the development and

enforcement of workplace health and safety regulations. NIOSH on the other hand

is in the Department of Health and Human Services and is a research agency.

NIOSH was created when the US Secretary of Labor was directed by congress

through section 2B (5,6) of the OSH Act to ?provide for research in the field

of occupational safety and health, including the psychological involved, and by

developing innovative methods, techniques, and approaches for dealing with

occupational safety and health problems: by exploring ways to discover latent

diseases, establishing causal connections between diseases and work and

environmental conditions, and conducting other research relating to health

problems, in recognition of the fact that occupational health standards present

problems often different from those involved in occupational safety?. During

its 25 year history NIOSH has had its function revised two times, once in 1977

by amendment to the Coal Mine Health and Safety Act and in 1995 when the U.S.

Bureau of Mine Health and Safety Research was consolidated and placed in NIOSH.

These changes allowed NIOSH to play the same role in the mining industry that

they played in all others. The duties and responsibilities of NIOSH are numerous

but include: ? Investigating potentially hazardous working conditions as

reported by employees or employers. ? Evaluate the hazards of new technologies

and work practices. ? Researching, Creating and Evaluating methods for

preventing disease, illness or injury in the workplace. ? Providing education

and training to individuals preparing for or actively involved in the field of

occupational safety and health. ? Recommend occupational safety and health

standards to OSHA. Many of the efforts of NIOSH are targeted at anticipating

workplace crisis and making sure that they do not come to pass. An example of

one of these efforts is the many mine disaster that have been prevented as a

result of the pillar system developed by NIOSH for longwall mining. Another

example is the many health emergencies that have been avoided as a result of the

NIOSH information hotline. As a federal agency NIOSH has given itself both a

vision and a mission statement. It?s vision is ?Delivering on the Nations

promise: safety and health at work for all people through research and

prevention?. The mission of NIOSH is to ?provide national and world

leadership to prevent work-related illness, injury and death by gathering

information, conducting scientific studies and translating the knowledge gained

into products and services?. NIOSH has given itself four strategic goals for

the next decade. The first goal is to ?conduct a targeted program of research

to reduce morbidity, injuries and mortality among workers in high priority areas

and high-risk sectors?. In order to accomplish goal number one NIOSH will

follow NORA or the National Occupational Research Agenda. NORA breaks NIOSH

research down into 3 distinct areas, disease and injury, work

environment/workforce and research tools and approaches. Each of the three areas

has specific areas of research that will be targeted. The following is a brief

list of the targeted research areas: Disease and Injury Allergic and Irritant

Dermatitis Hearing Loss Low Back Disorders Cumulative Trauma Disorders Work

Environment Emerging Technologies And Workforce Indoor Environment Special

Populations at Risk Research Tools and Cancer Research Methods Approaches

Control Technology and PPE Exposure Assessment Methods Risk Assessment Methods

It is understood that while there are many other area?s of research that may

still have importance, under NORA these will be some of the areas receiving the

majority of research attention at this time. The second goal is to ?develop a

system of surveillance of major occupational illnesses, injuries, exposures and

health hazards?. Congress decided in 1986 that the ability to identify,

quantify and report work-related injury and disease is vital to prevention. To

make optimal use of public resources to conduct this surveillance NIOSH has

created partnerships at Federal, State and Local levels throughout the country.

An example of this type of surveillance is the FACE program or Fatality

Assessment and Control Evaluation. In this program partnerships formed with

state Health Departments allow NIOSH to investigate worksites where fatalities

have occurred. NIOSH conducted 139 such investigations in 1998. Following the

investigations NIOSH gives prevention recommendations to the employers and

workers. Other partnerships have been formed with the Consumer Product Safety

Commission to study non-fatal occupational injuries and with the EPA to study

pesticide related poisonings. The third goal is to ?increase occupational

disease and injury prevention activities through workplace evaluations,

interventions and recommendations?. NIOSH has 5 separate programs aimed at

achieving goal number three. The first being Health Hazard Evaluations. These

are conducted at the worksite, based on the request of workers, employers or

government agencies. Specific recommendations will be made following an HHE to

prevent hazards at the worksite evaluated. The second program is Intervention

Effectiveness Research. These are conducted to evaluate how effective current

prevention methods are at reducing injuries, when there are known hazards. The

third is Control Technology Assistance. In this program NIOSH work with industry

to create practical solutions to hazards that will have a broad impact on

worksites. The fourth is Recommendations. NIOSH disseminates its research

information to the public to have a greater impact on hazards that may affect

people at home as well as work. The fifth and final is Respirator Certification.

This program conducts site audits, investigates respirator problems in the

field, studies proposed modifications, and conducts research to improve

respirator use and performance. The fourth and final goal is to provide workers,

employers, the public and the occupational safety and health community with

information, training and capacity to prevent occupational diseases and

injuries. NIOSH is also responsible for many different types of publications,

such as Criteria Documents, Current Intelligence , Bulletins, NIOSH Alerts,

Updates, Hazard Controls, Hazard Identifications, Reports of Investigations and

Informal Circulars. Criteria Documents provide the basis for occupational safety

and health standards. Each document generally contains a review of scientific

and technical information on a particular hazard, existence of safety and health

risks regarding the hazard and a review of the control methods. These documents

will make recommendations for minimizing safety and health risks. These

recommendations may include medical monitoring, exposure assessment, worker

training, control technology, personal protective equipment and record keeping.

An example is a 1998 document relating to the criteria for occupational noise

exposure. In the document NIOSH reaffirms the recommended exposure level for

occupational noise. The level has been at 85 Db since 1972. For occupations that

exceed the REL the document recommends a hearing loss prevention program that

includes all of the following, exposure assessment, engineering and

administrative controls, proper use of hearing protection, audiometric

evaluation and education. Current Intelligence Bulletins review, evaluate and

disseminate new information about occupational hazards . An example of such a

document is a 1997 bulletin on the commercial fishing industry fatalities in

Alaska. The document uses great detail to describe the difference between

commercial fishing in Alaska and other areas. Much of the harvesting is done

using different machinery and weather conditions than the rest of the industry.

NIOSH recommends that there be continued training with regards to the Commercial

Fishing Industry Vessel Safety Act, aimed at reducting injuries and fatalities

even further. NIOSH Alerts briefly present new information about occupational

illnesses, injuries and deaths. They generally ask for immediate action on the

part of the employer, employee and safety and health professionals to reduce the

risks and implement controls with regards to the hazard addressed by the alert.

An example is an Alert from December of 1999 entitled ?Preventing Injuries and

Deaths of Workers Who Operate or Work Near Forklifts?. In the report, NIOSH

states that over 1021 deaths have occurred as a result of forklifts in the past

10 years. Of that, 22% occurred as a result of a forklift overturning. NIOSH

give the current OSHA regulations, and manufacturer recommendations for safe

operation. It then give specific case data to drvie the point home to the

reader. After they have the readers attention NIOSH give its recommendations to

increase safety, which include ? Use seat belts if they are available ? Report

any damage problems noticed or occurring during your shift. ? Do not jump from

an overturning forklift. ? Use extreme caution on grades and ramps. Additional

recommendations are available but are too numerous to mention for the purpose of

this example. Updates are brief publications that provide information on NIOSH

findings and recommend preventative.

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