Activities: NIOSH Collaborations with Global Partners
Global Network of WHO Collaborating Centers in Occupational Health
NIOSH has been a Collaborating Center of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the Americas region of the WHO, since 1976. The Global Network of WHO Collaborating Centers in Occupational Health assists WHO to carry out its global strategy on occupational health for all.
NIOSH chairs the WHO Global Network; Dr. John Howard, NIOSH Director, is Chairperson; Dr. Marilyn Fingerhut serves as Co-Coordinator of the Global Network along with Dr. Evelyn Kortum, WHO Focal Point for Occupational Health.
The WHO Global Network of Collaborating Centres (CCs) in Occupational Health has a broad and active membership including 65 CCs and 10 in the process of CC designation, which represents a substantial component of the world’s leading ministerial, academic and professional communities in occupational health. The Global Network also includes three non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in formal affiliation with WHO: the International Commission on Occupational Health (ICOH), the International Occupational Hygiene Association (IOHA), and the International Ergonomics Association (IEA). The WHO occupational health staff in Geneva and the Regional Advisors in Occupational Health constitute the Secretariat, and the International Labour Organization (ILO) is an active partner. The coordinated and direct interactions among the members of the Global Network expand greatly the global reach of the Occupational Health Programmes at WHO headquarters and the six WHO Regional offices.
The Global Network of CCs in Occupational Health is unique in WHO, for its coherence, energy, and organization of contributions to a common Workplan. Since its establishment in 1990, the CCs of the Network have carried out projects within a shared Workplan to advance worker health and safety globally in priority areas agreed by the Network CC Directors.
Collaborating Centre Connection
A quarterly e-newsletter is published by NIOSH for the WHO Global Network of Collaborating Centres in Occupational Health.
View newsletter archives and/or subscribe to the Collaborating Centres Connection.
Global Plan of Action for Workers™ Health [PDF - 31 KB]
Approved by the WHO World Health Assembly in 2007 as WHA60.26 Agenda Item 12.13
WHO Global Strategy on Occupational Health for All
Approved by the WHO World Health Assembly in 1996 (WHA49.12, Agenda item 17, Annex 1.)
Declaration on Occupational Health for All
Background document prepared by WHO and the Collaborating Centers in Occupational Health in preparation for the 1996 World Health Assembly.
What has been the value of the WHO Network of Collaborating Centers in Occupational Health?
The WHO Global Strategy on Occupational Health for All, which was approved by the WHO World Health Assembly in 1996, continues to fuel and motivate the activities within the WHO Global Program in Occupational Health. In recent years, recognition of the value of collaborative efforts led to the development of a common global agenda at the 5th Network meeting in Changmai, Thailand (2001). Agreement was reached to work together in fifteen occupational health priority areas that constitute the 2001-2005 WHO Global Collaborating Center Work Plan. At the 2006 Network Meeting in Johannesburg, the 2006-2012 Work Plan was agreed by all.
The 2009–2012 Work Plan of the WHO Global Network
The Global Plan of Action for Workers’ Health, Resolution 60.26, was passed by the World Health Assembly in May 2007.
View the full text of the Global Plan of Action [PDF - 31 KB]
The Global Plan of Action for Workers’ Health resolution addresses all aspects of workers’ health, including primary prevention of occupational hazards, protection and promotion of health at work, employment conditions, and improving the response of health systems to workers’ health. It calls for traditional occupational risk assessment and management in the workplace, which is a key area for action. It also calls for improving workers’ health through involvement with other public health disciplines, such as chemical safety, environmental health, health systems, and disease prevention and control. It urges close collaboration with labour and other sectors, and organizations of employers and workers. The aim of the Global Plan of Action is to improve the health of all workers. The specific objectives of the plan are:
- To devise and implement policy instruments on workers’ health;
- To protect and promote health at the workplace;
- To improve the performance of and access to occupational health services;
- To provide and communicate evidence for action and practice; and
- To incorporate workers’ health into other policies.
The 2009-2012 Work Plan of the Network of CCs in Occupational Health contains about 300 projects aimed at advancing the commitments of the Global Plan of Action for Workers’ Health 2007-2018 Resolution 60.26 . The WHO CCs have been carrying out national, regional and global projects to assist countries to implement their commitments to the Global Plan of Action for Workers Health in the 2009-2012 Workplan. The end date for the Workplan was chosen in order to provide WHO with accomplishments to report to the World Health Assembly in 2013.
The CC projects within the 2009-2012 Workplan are organized into five groups, each focused on one of the five Objectives of the Global Plan of Action for Workers’ Health. The progress of projects is coordinated by volunteer Managers from some of the Collaborating Centres. They are called Global Plan of Action Objective Managers (GPA Managers). The 2009–2012 Work Plan also organizes the projects into subgroups addressing Priority topics within each of the GPA Objectives. Each subgroup of projects is coordinated by a CC Initiative Leader, who assists the GPA Objective Manager. Their work is done in cooperation with the Network Co-Coordinators, and the occupational health staff in Geneva and in the regional offices.
The Cochrane Collaboration was established in 1993, to become today’s international network of more than 28,000 dedicated individuals from over 100 countries. This network works to help health care providers, policy-makers, patients, and their advocates, make well-informed decisions about health interventions, based on the best available research evidence, by preparing, updating and promoting the accessibility of Cochrane Reviews. These are systematic reviews of primary research in human health interventions and health policy, and are internationally recognized as the highest standard in evidence-based health care. They investigate the effects of interventions for prevention, treatment and rehabilitation. They are published online in The Cochrane Library.
Seventy nine CDC researchers have contributed to the Cochrane Reviews, including two from NIOSH. NIOSH researchers were authors of Cochrane Reviews on Interventions for preventing injuries in the construction industry in 2007 and on Interventions to prevent occupational noise induced hearing loss. NIOSH is also represented in both the Advisory Board and the Editorial Board of the Cochrane Occupational Safety and Health Review Group since its creation in 2010.
International Program on Chemical Safety (IPCS)
The International Program on Chemical Safety (IPCS) was established in 1980. It is a joint program of three United Nations Cooperating Organizations – WHO, ILO, and United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), that implement activities related to chemical safety. WHO is the Executing Agency of the IPCS; its main roles are to establish the scientific basis for safe use of chemicals and strengthen national capabilities and capacities for chemical safety.
IPCS has an established and internationally recognized leadership role in the preparation of risk assessments on specific chemicals, and for developing and harmonizing hazard and risk assessment methods. These products include Concise International Chemical Risk Assessment Documents, International Chemical Safety Cards, Pesticide Data Sheets, and Poisons Information Monographs. These products are of particular benefit to countries that may lack high levels of toxicological expertise. IPCS has already begun work to maximize the consistency of its hazard and risk assessment products with the Globally Harmonized System for the Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). This consistency will enable national governments to use these products more effectively in implementing the GHS at the national level.
Another area of cooperative global work where implementation of the GHS is even more important is in the development of practical tools for controlling exposures to chemicals, particularly in small and medium size businesses. Many of these tools, utilize the method known as control banding, which is currently encouraged by WHO and ILO through IPCS. The purpose of control banding is to identify broad, simple, and effective qualitative risk assessment and control approaches by using the hazard classifications of chemicals identified through GHS in conjunction with information about exposure.
NIOSH is a collaborating partner in many of the IPCS activities. Additional information on NIOSH contributions can be found on several NIOSH Web pages:
- International Chemical Safety Cards
- Control Banding
- Concise International Chemical Assessment Documents (CICADs)
International Labor Organization
The ILO is a specialized agency of the United Nations that seeks the promotion of social justice and internationally recognized human and labor rights. The Organization formulates international labor standards in the form of Conventions and Recommendations and sets minimum standards of basic labor rights such as freedom of association, the right to organize, collective bargaining, abolition of forced labor, equality of opportunity and treatment, and other standards regulating conditions across the entire spectrum of work-related issues. ILO hosts a research body and publishing house (ILO 2002). NIOSH collaborates with ILO, particularly with ILO InFocus Programme on Safety and Health at Work and the Environment (SafeWork).
ILO International Occupational Safety and Health Information Center (CIS)
NIOSH has been an ILO CIS Center since 1970. CIS is the knowledge management arm of the ILO InFocus Programme on Safety and Health at Work and the Environment (SafeWork). Its goal is to ensure that workers, and everyone concerned with their protection, have access to the facts they need to prevent occupational injuries and diseases. CIS continuously monitors world literature on occupational safety and health through its contacts with publishers and with 152 focal points ("CIS Centres") at the national or regional level. Summaries and citations of the most useful publications, as well as products based on the collected information, are disseminated electronically and in print. The network of CIS Centers contributes to the exchange of information among persons responsible for establishing and implementing national policies and programs.
A series of guidelines on how to classify chest radiographs for persons with pneumoconioses has been published by the ILO since 1950. The goal of this process was to describe and codify the radiographic abnormalities of the pneumoconioses in a simple, reproducible manner.
This revised (2011) edition of the 'Guidelines for the use of the ILO International Classification of Radiographs of Pneumoconioses' extends the applicability of the ILO scheme to classifications of results from digital radiographic images of the chest. The ILO Standard Digital Images (ILO 2011-D) have been prepared for this purpose.
The 2011 edition replaces the previous edition of in 2000 and is described in the 2002 ILO publication, Guidelines for the Use of the ILO International Classification of Radiographs of Pneumoconioses (ILO 2002).
NIOSH developed a B-Reader program in 1974 to identify physicians qualified to serve in national pneumoconiosis programs directed at coal miners and others who suffer from dust-related illness. By evaluating the ability of a reader to classify a test set of radiographs, and certifying only those who achieve a certain level of proficiency, the B-Reader Program ensures that physicians who read chest radiographs for evidence of pneumoconiosis using the ILO Classification system are as accurate and precise as possible.
Additional information about radiographic reading and the ILO system, including recommendations or “best practices” for use of the ILO system in different settings can be found on the NIOSH Chest Radiography Topic Page.
NIOSH has provided trainings for international experts in various countries, including Zambia (2006), Chile and Brazil (2009), and Colombia and Indonesia (2011).
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