In 1970, the U.S. Congress passed Public Law 91-596, The Occupational Safety and Health Act, in part, establishing the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Under Section 21(a), the Act mandated that “… the Secretary shall conduct, directly or by grants and contracts, education programs to provide an adequate supply of qualified personnel to carry out the purposes of this Act....” Consistent with this mandate, NIOSH initiated a grant program to meet workforce needs and began funding training project grants (TPGs) throughout the country in several core disciplines (industrial hygiene, occupational health nursing, occupational medicine, and occupational safety). In 1977, the training grant program expanded with the establishment of 11 Educational Resource Centers, renamed as the Education and Research Centers (ERCs) in 1998, in universities throughout the country. As of July 2009, NIOSH is supporting 17 ERCs and 33 TPGs. View the current listing of ERC and TPG Programs.
ERCs are academic institutions that provide interdisciplinary graduate training in Industrial Hygiene, Occupational Health Nursing, Occupational Medicine (OM), Occupational Safety (OS), and other fields closely related to occupational safety and health (OSH). The ERCs are multidisciplinary/interdisciplinary programs that address OSH training and research training in a cross-cutting and integrated manner. ERCs result in cross-fertilization among the various disciplines and impact safety and health practice and research. The ERCs are the major part of a network of training grants that help ensure an adequate supply of qualified professional occupational safety and health practitioners and researchers. These training programs are intended to provide multi-level practitioner and research training.
The TPGs also play a significant role in helping to meet the need for qualified OSH professionals. TPGs are supported at academic institutions that usually provide training in one of the core disciplines (industrial hygiene, occupational health nursing, occupational medicine, and occupational safety) or in a closely allied OSH specialty.
Both ERC and TPG programs focus on providing academic and research training programs that produce graduates who contribute as practitioners and researchers to the prevention of worker exposure to OSH hazards.
ERCs also conduct continuing education programs for OSH, providing training courses for physicians, nurses, industrial hygienists, safety professionals, and other occupational safety and health professionals, paraprofessionals and technicians, including personnel from labor-management health and safety committees.
An essential component of ERCs is outreach and research to practice activities with other institutions, businesses, community groups, or agencies located within the region. Programs are encouraged to address area needs and implement innovative strategies for meeting those needs with a focus on impacting the practitioner environment.
- National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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