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NIOSH Respiratory Diseases Research Program

Evidence Package for the National Academies' Review 2006-2007

NIOSH Programs > Respiratory Diseases > Evidence Package > 1. Introduction to NIOSH

1. Introduction to NIOSH

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NIOSH is the federal agency responsible for conducting research and making recommendations for the prevention of occupational injury and illness. NIOSH is part of the CDC in DHHS.

Surveillance data published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) documents the burden of injury and illness associated with work. In 2002, there were 5,524 occupational fatalities in the private sector, an average of 15 per day.1 In 2003, there were 4.4 million non-fatal injuries and illnesses in the private sector.2 This human toll is accompanied by significant economic cost. The Liberty Mutual 2004 Workplace Safety Index estimated that direct costs for occupational injuries alone were $49.6 billion in 2002.3

Changes in the workplace will likely create new challenges for preventing occupational injury and illness. As the U.S. economy shifts from manufacturing to services and industries shift from older to newer technologies, there are resulting changes in the distribution of jobs and their associated hazards. Workforce demographics are also changing. By the year 2008, the U.S. workforce will grow to an estimated 155 million, with minorities constituting 28 percent of the workforce and women 48 percent. The workforce is also aging. By 2010, middle and older age workers will outnumber younger workers. Finally, there have been important changes in the conditions under which work is performed. Longer work hours, longer shifts and compressed work weeks; part-time and temporary work; around the clock shift work; and reduced job security are all realities of the modern workplace. NIOSH must work to prevent the occupational injuries and illnesses of today as well as anticipate and prevent those of tomorrow.

To meet the challenges of occupational safety and health, NIOSH is guided by its mission to provide national and world leadership to prevent work-related illnesses and injuries.4 In carrying out this mission, NIOSH adheres to a core set of values:

  • Relevance – Our programs are responsive to the occupational safety and health problems that are found in today's workplaces and the workplaces of tomorrow.
  • Diversity – Our employees reflect the full spectrum of diversity found in the U.S. workforce and our research and interventions reflect the diversity of solutions needed for the U.S. workplace.
  • Quality – We use only the best science, the highest level of data quality, and the most transparent and independent peer-review.
  • Partnership – We accomplish our mission in partnership with employers and workers as well as in academia, industry, government, and scientific and professional communities, both nationally and internationally. These partnerships are formed strategically to improve planning, execution, and review of NIOSH research. They also help translate and transfer research outputs to improvements in the workplace.
  • Access – Our customers can obtain all NIOSH products and services through expanded traditional and electronic access.
  • Performance – Our programs are results-oriented.
  • Accountability – Our programs are evaluated by how well they solve the occupational safety and health problems found in today's workplaces and the workplaces of tomorrow.

1. Bureau of Labor Statistics [2002]. National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries in 2002.
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2. Bureau of Labor Statistics [2003]. Workplace Injuries in Illnesses in 2003.
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3. Liberty Mutual Insurance Company [2005]. Despite 6.2 percent fall in the number of serious workplace injuries, their financial impact on employers remains huge.
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4. NIOSH Strategic Plan. [].