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NIOSH Expresses Appreciation for National Academies' Report on the Institute's Construction Safety, Health Program

NIOSH Update:

Contact: Fred Blosser (202) 245-0645
November 6, 2008

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) expressed appreciation on Nov. 7 for an extensive report by an independent scientific panel that reviewed the institute’s strategic research program for preventing occupational injuries, illnesses, and deaths in the construction industry.

The NIOSH Construction Program consists of three components: an intramural research component, an extramural grants component, and an external “National Construction Center” currently operated by CPWR – The Center for Construction Research and Training. The National Academies convened the independent committee of experts and issued a pre-publication copy of the report.

“The report represents much hard work over the past three years by the review panel, National Academies’ staff, NIOSH staff and senior managers, and our partners in the construction community,” said NIOSH Acting Director Christine M. Branche, Ph.D. “We extend our thanks to all for their contributions to this important endeavor.”

The report, “Construction Research at NIOSH,” is available at the National Academies Press web page, www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=12530#toc. It extensively evaluates NIOSH’s construction safety and health research program for relevance in addressing priority safety and health needs and in transferring research to workplace practice. It also evaluates, in detail, the impact of NIOSH’s research in preventing occupational injuries, illnesses, and deaths in the construction industry.

The review committee presented a score of 5 out of a possible 5 for program relevance. “The committee determined that the Construction Research Program was clearly engaged in high-priority activities given its focus on the leading causes of fatalities, health hazards that affect large numbers of construction workers, and significant special populations,” the report said. “The committee also determined that the Construction Research Program was significantly engaged in appropriate [research] transfer activities.”

On program impact, the committee presented a score of 4 out of a possible 5. The panel determined that the NIOSH research program has contributed to construction health and safety “as measured by either end outcomes or well-accepted intermediate outcomes,” the report said. However, “committee members had divergent views as to whether these contributions could be classified as major contributions across the entire program.”

The report contains six major recommendations, and a number of suggestions for ongoing activities and future research areas. Two of the recommendations address continuing and expanding the role of the external “National Construction Center.” The committee's recommendations will “help to ensure that the program continues to work in high-priority areas,” and to improve the program’s impact in the future, the report said.

“The independent panel’s review highlighted the complexity of the construction industry, its fundamental importance to American growth, the physical challenges of the work environment, and the dramatic changes in the industry that will continue through the coming decades,” said Dr. Branche. “The National Academies’ review will help us significantly as we work with our partners to design and carry out 21st Century research for this 21st Century industry.”

The evaluation was one of a series of reviews convened by the National Academies at NIOSH’s request to evaluate the relevance, impact, and quality of NIOSH’s scientific research in eight program areas. The reviews are part of NIOSH’s commitment to transparency and accountability in its research programs.

As with the NA reviews in other NIOSH program areas, NIOSH will review the independent panel’s findings and recommendations, prepare a draft implementation plan, and ask the NIOSH Board of Scientific Counselors to review the complete package.

More information about the NA reviews can be found at www.cdc.gov/niosh/nas/. More information about NIOSH’s construction safety and health research program can be found at www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/construction/.

 
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