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Notice to Readers National Occupational Research Agenda

Each day in the United States, an average of 137 persons die from work-related diseases (1); an additional 16 die from on-the-job injuries (2). In 1994, employers reported 6.3 million work-related injuries and 515,000 cases of occupational illnesses (3). In the same year, occupational injuries alone cost $121 billion in lost wages, lost productivity, administrative expenses, health care, and related costs (4) -- a figure that does not include the costs of occupational diseases, for which reliable estimates are not available. As jobs shift from manufacturing to services, increasingly common characteristics include longer hours, compressed workweeks, shift work, part-time and temporary work, and diminished job security; in addition, new chemicals, materials, processes, and equipment are being introduced more quickly.

In response to these issues and to provide a framework to guide occupational safety and health research during the next decade, CDC's National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and its partners in the public and private sectors have published the National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) (5). * Approximately 500 outside organizations and persons provided input to NIOSH for the development of NORA. This effort to focus and coordinate research -- both for NIOSH and the entire occupational safety and health community -- attempts to address systematically topics identified as high priority and most likely to yield health and safety improvements for workers and industry.

NORA identifies 21 research priorities grouped into three categories: Disease and Injury, Work Environment and Workforce, and Research Tools and Approaches (see box). To initiate implementation of NORA, NIOSH will convene its NORA partners to refine further the preliminary approaches agreed to in identifying the NORA research priorities. Throughout the process of implementing NORA, NIOSH will attempt to expand its partnerships and improve coordination throughout the occupational safety and health community.


  1. Landrigan PJ, Baker DB. The recognition and control of occupational disease. JAMA 1991;266:676-80.

  2. Jenkins EL, Kisner SM, Fosbroke DE, et al. Fatal injuries to workers in the United States, 1980-89: a decade of surveillances; national profile. Cincinnati: US Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, CDC, 1993; DHHS publication no. (NIOSH)93-108.

  3. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Workplace injuries and illnesses in 1994. BLS News, December 15, 1995; publication 95-508.

  4. National Safety Council. Accident facts. Itasca, Illinois: National Safety Council, 1995.

  5. NIOSH. National Occupational Research Agenda. Cincinnati: US Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, CDC, 1996; DHHS publication no. (NIOSH)96-115.

    • Single copies of NORA are available without charge from the Publications Office, NIOSH, CDC, Mailstop C-13, 4676 Columbia Parkway, Cincinnati, OH 45226-1998; telephone (800) 365-4674 or (for persons outside the United States) (513) 533-8328; fax (513) 533-8573. NORA also is available on the NIOSH Home Page on the World-Wide Web: niosh/homepage.html.

Priority Research Areas for National Occupational Research Agenda

Category Research Priority

Disease and Injury Allergic and irritant dermatitis

Asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease Fertility and pregnancy abnormalities Hearing loss Infectious diseases Low-back disorders Musculoskeletal disorders of the upper extremities Traumatic injuries

Work Environment

and Workforce Emerging technologies

Indoor environment Mixed exposures Organization of work Special populations at risk

Research Tools

and Approaches Cancer research methods

Control technology and personal protective equipment Exposure assessment methods Health services research Intervention effectiveness research Risk assessment methods Social and economic consequences of

workplace illness and injury Surveillance research methods

+------------------------------------------------------------------- ---+ | Clarification and Erratum: Vol. 45, No. 21 | | ------------------------------------------ | | In the Notice to Readers on page 445, "National Occupational | | Research Agenda," the estimate in the first paragraph of 137 deaths | | per day from occupational illness was derived from an independent | | evaluation by CDC's National Institute for Occupational Safety and | | Health of existing estimates for the total number of occupational | | disease deaths, which was consistent with the estimate cited in | | reference 1. | | In the footnote, the toll-free telephone number was incorrect; | | the correct phone number is (800) 356-4674. | +------------------------------------------------------------------- ---+

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