Western States Office
The mission of the NIOSH Western States Office (WSO) is to identify and respond to priority Western occupational safety and health (OSH) issues and serve as a local and regional NIOSH presence in the Western U.S. The WSO also functions as a "gateway" for the Western states to access the technical expertise and resources available throughout NIOSH. Along with the Alaska Pacific Office in Anchorage and the Office of Mine Safety and Health Research in Spokane, the WSO helps establish and maintain OSH capacity, conduct site visits, provide outreach and technical assistance and maintain close working relationships with Western stakeholders, including state and local health departments, universities, medical facilities, environmental and regulatory agencies, industry and labor groups. The WSO has expertise in industrial hygiene, epidemiology, occupational medicine, safety engineering, and health communications.
The Western Region
The Western U.S. consists of 17 contiguous states plus Alaska and Hawaii. This region encompasses a broad range of OSH issues, with several of the Western states consistently recording the highest work-related fatality rates. According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the Western U.S. has experienced rapid and continued growth. Between 2000 and 2010, the population in the Western U.S. grew by 13.8%, compared to 3.2% in the Northeastern U.S. and 3.9% in the Midwest. Nevada was the fastest-growing state between 2000 and 2010, growing by 35.1%, followed by Arizona (24.6%), Utah (23.8%), Idaho (21.1%), and Texas (20.6%).
WSO emphasis areas include:
OSH Capacity Building and Surveillance
States have a vital role to play in the surveillance of occupational injuries, illnesses, and hazards and a primary function of the WSO is to promote and foster occupational safety and health (OSH) surveillance and program capacity for the Western states. This objective is in support of the NIOSH Strategic Goal to enhance the use of state-level public health surveillance information at both the state and national levels for prevention of occupational illnesses, injuries, and hazards.
Surveillance of occupational injuries, diseases, and hazards provides critical data that can be used to prioritize prevention efforts and focus resources to protect workers. To accomplish these objectives, the WSO works with many partners, including the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE) , Education and Research Centers (ERCs) and Agricultural Research Centers, states and other federal agencies. The WSO also works closely with many NIOSH Divisions and Programs, including the NIOSH Surveillance Program.
Western States Occupational Network (WestON)
The WSO works with the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologist (CSTE) and the Mountain and Plains Education and Research Center (MAPERC) to co-host annual Western States Occupational Network (WestON) meetings that focus on increasing state OSH program and surveillance capacity in the Western U.S. These meetings bring together colleagues from all 19 Western states, NIOSH researchers and other occupational safety and health professionals for a day and half meeting to learn about current OSH issues, network and discuss potential collaborations. The eighth annual WestON meeting is planned for September, 2015. For more information visit WestON.
Oil and Gas Extraction Research
Oil and gas extraction is a rapidly growing industry in the West and has been identified by NIOSH as a priority occupational safety and health research area. The Western States Office manages the NIOSH Oil and Gas Extraction Safety and Health Program which seeks to reduce injuries and illnesses among oil and gas extraction workers. Researchers have built partnerships with industry stakeholders, identified priority research areas, and obtained funding to focus on the most frequent safety and health hazards in the industry. The WSO also conducts field evaluations to assess health risks and exposures in this industry. Current products include publications in industry magazines and scientific journals, safety training videos (on the topics of Rig Moves, Seatbelts and Fall Protection) and a set of rig safety inspection checklists. All of these products have been developed in collaboration with safety professionals in the industry through participation in the NORA Oil and Gas Extraction Program.
The WSO provides support and technical assistance in the Western U.S. to the:
- NIOSH Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) Program investigations, particularly in established focused areas such as construction
- NIOSH Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program (FFIPP) with special emphasis on Wildland Fire Fighters
- NIOSH Health Hazard Evaluation (HHE) Program
- National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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