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NIOSH has released National Occupational Research Agenda: Second Decade in Review | 2006-2016, a new publication that highlights 10 years of OSH research and assesses its impact.
At the end of each decade of National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA), NIOSH reviews NORA’s contributions toward improving OSH and transferring the new knowledge obtained into practice.
The report provides a highlighted list of contributions made from 2006 to 2016 across industry sectors:
Agriculture, Forestry & Fishing
NIOSH alerted authorities in Florida and North Carolina about new birth defects cases using monitoring program data. North Carolina created a task force whose findings motivated the state legislature to pass anti-retaliation and recordkeeping laws, training mandates to protect the health of agricultural workers and funding for improved surveillance. The Florida state legislature provided funding to add 10 new pesticide inspectors.
NIOSH, OSHA, The Center for Construction Research and Training, and their partners started a national campaign to prevent fatal falls from roofs, ladders and scaffolds. Currently, more than 7,000 construction employers and more than 2.5 million construction employees participate in campaign events.
Health Care & Social Assistance
NIOSH’s online training course to protect nurses offers free training designed to meet the needs of today’s generation of workers. From August 2013 through December 2015, nearly 15,000 people completed the course. Most healthcare professionals earned education credits. Healthcare facilities and nursing schools are evaluating whether the course is adaptable for ongoing educational offerings.
A company identified potential styrene overexposures for some workers and requested NIOSH assistance. As a result, the company made changes that eliminated the need for workers to enter the confined space inside of the wind turbine blade while using styrene. Styrene exposures were reduced by an order of magnitude.
The Miner Act of 2006 requires mines to have wireless communications and electronic tracking systems. NIOSH conducted needed research to allow quick installation of workable systems. About 35% of companies that installed systems in the U.S. selected one of the NIOSH-developed communication systems. NIOSH support helped develop improved technologies.
Oil & Gas
In field studies during hydraulic fracturing operations, NIOSH identified a previously unrecognized hazardous exposure to silica dust. Industry responded positively and immediately to the NIOSH recommendations that stemmed from the field study. A national workgroup formed to enact the recommendations and promoted them throughout the industry.
NIOSH found that self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) face piece failures from high heat and flame exposure contributed to a number of firefighter fatalities. NIOSH participation on NFPA's Technical Committee on Respiratory Protection Equipment led to a revised standard to help protect firefighters.
Transportation, Warehousing & Utilities
NIOSH studied the effectiveness of cameras and partitions in taxicabs to reduce the driver homicide rate. NIOSH found cameras reduced homicides, but partitions did not. The NIOSH studies are on an external partner’s website that provides resources for taxi driver safety and other issues. They also informed a 2014 letter from the Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police to the city’s taxicab regulatory agency urging approval of an ordinance requiring cameras in cabs. Philadelphia adopted the improved safety equipment, and New Orleans and Montreal also made changes in light of the NIOSH results.
Wholesale & Retail Trade
NIOSH took a business-to-business approach in a series of three workshops to introduce retailers to manufacturers of devices willing to consider design changes to reduce overexertion injuries of employees in grocery stores. The workshops and a NIOSH document led to a dozen of industry-leading retail chains contracting with different device providers to use, modify or develop equipment.
NIOSH measures the impact of research in five major areas:
- Setting standards, guidance and policy
- Recommendations impact manufacturers, trade associations and others
- Technology adopted
- NIOSH research builds knowledge base
- NIOSH outputs widely disseminated
Setting standards, guidance and policy—NIOSH studies of work-related cancer deaths provided information that helped the International Agency on Research on Cancer classify more chemicals as known human carcinogens.
Recommendations impact manufacturers, trade associations and others—NIOSH research to improve the design and fit of PPE informs manufacturers of respirators for healthcare workers, gear for firefighters and fall protection harnesses for construction workers.
Technology adopted—NIOSH developed the Ladder Safety Smartphone application, which the agency says was downloaded more than 50,000 times by the end of 2015.
NIOSH research builds knowledge base—NIOSH scientists invented a way to suspend carbon nanotubes in air while controlling the concentration of particles. “This is a true breakthrough,” NIOSH says, “because it was the first time a well-characterized controlled aerosol of carbon nanotubes had been generated, providing a resource for studies on these minute particles whose properties and characteristics are not well understood.”
NIOSH outputs widely disseminated—NIOSH recommendations for prevention through design were promoted by textbook publishers, OSHA, AIHA, ASSE, Transportation Research Board and others in textbooks and engineering education modules.
The in-depth report is available here.
Originally published Aug. 16, 2017.