Outcomes are events, occurrences or conditions that indicate progress toward achievement of the purpose of the program. Outcomes reflect the results of a program activity compared to its intended purpose.
Increased supply of appropriately trained OSH personnel
OSH programs have developed and delivered training programs at universities funded by NIOSH to increase the number of graduates available for OSH employment in various areas, including government, industry, labor, consulting, and healthcare. Graduates from entry-level bachelor and master degree programs also may serve as highly qualified candidates for advanced level degree programs. Doctoral-level scientists (e.g., Ph.D., D.Sc.) graduating from the OSH programs serve as highly qualified faculty educators and researchers at universities throughout the United States. Data on placement of graduates are reported annually to NIOSH.
OSH knowledge, skills, competencies, and credentials
Graduates from these programs may go on to be certified through a professional association or board. The top OSH-related credentials (OSH) in the four core OSH areas include: Certified Safety Professional (CSP); Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH); Certified Occupational Health Nurse (COHN); and Board Certification for physicians in Preventive and Occupational Medicine. Even though credentialing is available, it is not a requirement for practice in the core areas.
CDC/NIOSH ERCs and some TPGs expand academic education and training through continuing education courses for practicing professionals. These courses increase accessibility to applicable and appropriate topic-specific courses for practicing OSH professionals and technicians. Approximately 40,000 practitioners receive training annually in the ERCs. See NIOSH ERC continuing education coursework.
The Alaska Marine Safety Education Association (AMSEA) TPG provided training to 750 trainees in the fishing industry in FY 2009.
Faculty members and students from NIOSH ERCs and TPGs represent a substantial source of peer-reviewed research and other scholarly OSH publications available for reference and educational use by other OSH researchers, practitioners, and students. These writings are often published in professional peer-review journals.
NIOSH ERCs and TPGs foster intra- and inter-university collaborations and build and strengthen linkages with local and regional stakeholders.
In addition, through outreach efforts and programs, pilot projects, continuing education, and other activities, ERCs regularly work with TPGs in their respective regions. Formal relationships have also been established. For example, in an undergraduate TPG program in industrial hygiene, ERC faculty sit on the advisory board and several graduates have gone on to ERCs for graduate training. Another example is the inclusion of TPG faculty on the pilot project research training peer review committee in ERCs. The nature and scope of involvement varies in regions, but the involvement is strongly encouraged.
Intermediate outcomes, which generally occur from 4 to 6 years, build upon the short-term outcomes. By having well-prepared occupational safety and health professionals, worksites can establish and/or enhance OSH programs and services; use best practices in providing OSH workplace programs; and establish and/or enhance research programs, all contributing to a workplace culture of safety and health worker protection.
Intermediate outcomes include development of OSH-related academic programs, development of programs in the workplace, enhancement of research programs, and development of an imbedded culture of workplace safety and health and professional service.
Development and establishment of OSH academic programs
Since 1977 when ERCs were established, the total number of ERCs has grown over the years to 17. TPGs were first funded in 1970 and have ranged in numbers from 30-40. Currently, 33 TPGs are funded. Visit the NIOSH Education and Research Centers and the Office of Extramural Programs for more information.
The proportion of programs in the country that NIOSH supports varies by discipline. The majority of OHN specialty programs are funded by NIOSH. Of the 28 active Occupational Medicine residencies accredited by the Accreditation Council on Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), 23 are funded by NIOSH (2009). It is difficult to assess the proportion of programs in Industrial Hygiene and Occupational Safety that NIOSH funds since these disciplines may be conducted as a combination of disciplines (generalist programs) or be conducted as a minor in the curriculum.
Establishment and enhancement of OSH programs in the workplace
Data are not currently available on graduates other than immediately post-graduation. ERCs and TPGs are making a concerted effort to establish a method to track graduates up to 5 years post-graduation. As for programs initiated by students during internships, anecdotal evidence is available that these interns are subsequently hired by employers on graduation. A study of ERCs performed in 1996 by the DHHS Office of Inspector General stated that in nine ERCS surveyed, more than 90% of graduates pursued safety and health careers.
Establishment/enhancement of research programs
Data are not available as to numbers of students/graduates who receive research awards as students or post-graduation. However, graduates who enter academia currently serve as faculty and/or ERC directors and have established scholarly research agendas.
Research training is available in all ERCs and some TPGs and is enhanced by pilot project programs established in ERCs. The purpose of the pilot project program is to develop new investigators by providing competitive research project awards to doctoral students and faculty in the region.
Expanded partnerships in conducting workplace-based research
For example, faculty and student access to study populations is facilitated by partnerships with stakeholders. Students often conduct masters or doctoral research in cooperation with local industries.
Professional leadership and service
Although complete data are not available, it appears that a substantial portion of graduates from 1977-2009, since the inception of the grant support, have taken leadership positions in academia, government agencies, industrial establishments, and labor groups.
Long-term outcomes build upon the intermediate outcomes. Examples of long-term outcomes are safe and healthful working conditions for all workers, improved quality of life, preservation of human resources, increased worker productivity, decreased costs of disability, decreased morbidity and mortality, reputation as an international model of OSH training, and merger of environmental and workplace concerns.
Safe and healthful working conditions for all workers
Providing safe and healthful working conditions is, in essence, the General Duty Clause of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and the mission of NIOSH.
Continuous occupational safety and health training can prevent occupational fatalities, diseases, and injuries. Employers who adopt positive approaches to health and safety, and employees who use good health and safety practices report fewer accidents and injuries and higher workplace productivity
Through prevention efforts, the preservation of human resources/improved quality of life and increased worker productivity
A safe and healthful work environment will help preserve our most valuable human resources— workers. Healthy and high performing workers are vital to producing a quality product or service, enabling the employer to survive. Work influences a person’s well-being -- physical, social, emotional, and psychological -- and also extends beyond work to family, community, and overall quality of life. In conjunction with the OSH legislative agenda, workplace health promotion, prevention, and risk reduction activities conducted by well-trained occupational health and safety professionals can improve quality of life.
For more information visit the NIOSH Worklife Initiative page.
An example of program impact is that NIOSH funds the Alaska Marine Education Association (AMSEA) to provide marine safety training. A significant finding by the NIOSH field office in Anchorage has been the dramatic fall in the case fatality rate in commercial fishing casualties. In 1991, before the marine training regulation came into force, the case fatality rate was 24.4%. When training began in 1992, the rate fell to 17.8 % and in 1993 to 14.3%. After the second year of training, the rate was 1.1%. This is a dramatic reduction in the loss of human life.
Sustained culture of workplace safety and health
Active involvement of all employers and workers in establishing and maintaining a safe work environment promotes and enforces occupational safety. Employers must focus on a safe and healthful environment through reviewing engineering controls and providing appropriate personal protective equipment where necessary. Employees must also work in a safe and responsible manner at all times, and report any and all workplace situations which might lead to injury or illness without fear of reprisal. With a cooperative effort among management, employees, and appropriately trained occupational health and safety staff, a safe workplace will evolve and continue, sustaining an occupational safety and health culture that is not only encouraged but expected.
Reputation as an international model of OSH training
The NIOSH ERC concept is viewed globally as a model for the training of occupational health and safety professionals. Activities include faculty-conducted research, short courses and academic courses, and collaboration with foreign nations in developing curricula for academic programs.
Conservation practices and green environments
Many exposures involve both the workplace and the general environment and can be difficult to separate. Workers’ environmental health assessments should consider all potential exposures that they may encounter at work, home, school, or in the community as risks can occur in more than one setting. Prepared occupational safety and health professionals are able to address the multitude of exposures.
Economic benefit to employers and others
No specific data are available on decreased morbidity and mortality of workers as a result of employing trained professionals. However, loss prevention, decreased wage loss, minimized medical expenses, and disability are all benefits to employers attributable to good occupational health and safety programs instituted by trained OSH professionals. Disability management programs and practices are based on a comprehensive, cohesive, and progressive approach in occupational safety and health. Disability costs and third party payments in the public sector can be reduced by preventing accidents and injuries, decreasing claim costs, and reducing unnecessary lost time.
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