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Division of Safety Research (DSR)

  a menagerie of images depicting DSR programs that include surveillance, analytic epidemiology, protective technology and safety engineering The Division of Safety Research (DSR) serves as the focal point for the Institute's traumatic occupational injury research program. The Division's programs are organized around the public health approach to occupational injury prevention. DSR programs encompass surveillance, field investigations, analytic epidemiology, protective technology and safety engineering.

Surveillance Systems

DSR maintains a number of fatal and non-fatal injury surveillance systems which are used to prioritize research needs, target prevention efforts, and monitor trends. Through a Memorandum of Understanding, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has provided DSR with a special research file for the multi-source Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries that facilitates detailed analyses and interpretation of occupational injury deaths occurring since 1992. DSR also maintains data from the NIOSH-developed National Traumatic Occupational Fatalities (NTOF) surveillance system which is based on death certificate data. NTOF contains information on more than 100,000 worker deaths in the United States that occurred from 1980 through 2001. The Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) program conducts epidemiologic field investigations of work-related deaths. Results of each FACE investigation provide recommendations for preventing similar events in the future. To help fill gaps in data on nonfatal occupational injuries, in collaboration with the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC), NIOSH conducts surveillance of occupational injuries and illnesses treated in a nationally representative sample of hospital emergency departments through a work supplement to the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS-Work) and through periodic surveys of farm operators and workers.

Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program

In fiscal year 1998, NIOSH implemented a program to conduct FACE investigations of line-of-duty deaths to fire fighters in response to a Congressional appropriation for a fire fighter safety initiative. The overall goal of this program is to better define characteristics of line-of-duty deaths among fire fighters, develop recommendations for the prevention of injuries and deaths, and implement and disseminate prevention efforts to the fire service.

Childhood Agricultural Injury Prevention Initiative

Through funding received by NIOSH through Congress in fiscal year 1997, DSR launched a continuing initiative to prevent injury and death among children while living, working, or visiting agricultural work environments (primarily farms). The activities of the initiative include conducting surveillance and research to fill critical data needs, an extramural research program addressing research priorities, facilitating the use of data for prevention efforts, and encouraging adoption of effective injury prevention efforts by the private and public sectors.

Field Research

The DSR analytic epidemiology program is aimed at determining causes and risk factors for work-related trauma, and evaluating the efficacy of interventions through epidemiologic field studies. This program works with industry partners to evaluate best practice solutions as well as emerging technologies to prevent occupational traumatic injuries. The current emphasis of this program is in the prevention of violence to taxicab drivers, healthcare workers, and convenience store employees; prevention of slips trips and falls in food service; and evaluation of in-vehicle monitoring system for reducing motor vehicle crashes to truck drivers.

Laboratory Studies

The DSR protective technology and safety engineering programs emphasize developing engineering controls, safe work practices, and protective equipment for the prevention of traumatic injuries and fatalities. The program conducts studies in both laboratory and field settings, and uses advanced technologies and state-of-the-art research laboratories for furthering occupational safety research.The current program focus is on fall prevention and protection, anthropometry and digital human modeling for protective equipment and workplace design, and emerging technology research and development for several high risk occupations including taxi drivers, truck drivers, fire fighters, construction workers, and emergency medical service workers.

Motor Vehicle Safety Research

The NIOSH Center for Motor Vehicle Safety, which is hosted by the Division of Safety Research, was established in December 2010 to coordinate NIOSH research and prevention activities related to motor vehicle crashes, the leading cause of work-related fatalities among U.S. workers. As a "virtual center", NIOSH researchers at geographically dispersed locations are linked by shared computer networks and other technologies. The Center’s initiatives address road safety for workers across all industries and occupations based on rigorous assessment of research needs and opportunity for impact in the workplace. Research and prevention programs consider all potential risk factors for work-related motor vehicle crashes, including use of occupant restraints, fatigue, vehicle design, work organization, and employer policies. The Center’s research program explores a wide range of possible solutions based on technology, organizational change, behavioral change, and management approaches. Greatest emphasis is given to interventions for workers with high exposure to work-related driving and highest risk of fatality or injury. Examples of current studies include an evaluation of a fleet safety management program and the impact of active safety systems, such as crash mitigation braking systems and forward crash warning systems, on reducing long haul truck crashes and injuries to truck drivers.