NIOSH 50th Anniversary

2021 marked the 50th anniversary of NIOSH. Created by the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act of 1970, NIOSH was established as a separate and independent research program to create objective scientific research findings in the field of occupational safety and health.

This page provides information and links to many of the ways NIOSH and our partners observed this golden Anniversary.

NIOSH Science Blog

The NIOSH 50th Anniversary Blog Series contains over 50 blogs highlighting various aspects of NIOSH history including a close look at each of the NIOSH field locations.


eNews from the Director’s Desk: NIOSH Looks at 50

NIOSH Update: NIOSH Celebrates 50 Years

2021 NIOSH Bibliography celebrates NIOSH’s progress over the first 50 years, from its publication of the NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards and evaluations of firefighter and other worker deaths to its administration of the World Trade Center Health Program and support of responder and workforce safety in crises such as the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, Ebola outbreak, and COVID-19 pandemic.

Research Rounds: In 2021 NIOSH eNews included a limited time series called “NIOSH Then” where we looked back at research efforts inside and outside of NIOSH from the past 50 years. Here are those articles:

January       Early Steps Toward Integrating Workplace Safety and Health: Origins of Total Worker Health®

February     Pioneering 1976 Guidelines Targeted Work-related Cancer

March         Ongoing Study Furthers Understanding of Lung Disease in Textile Workers

April           Anthropometric Research Improves Safety by Design

May            Landmark Study of Benzene Risk Improved Worker Safety and Health

June           Pivotal Study Links Lung Cancer Death to Diesel Exhaust

July             Study Showing More Injuries Among Temporary Workers Helped Change Law

August       High Risk for Workplace Homicide Led to Call for Increased Protection and Research

September Silicosis Implicated in Rising Cases of Black Lung

October      Expanded Framework for Worker Well-being Leads to New NIOSH Survey Tool

November Back Belts Do Not Prevent Low Back Pain or Injury

December Decades Long Program Examines Emerging and Persistent Hazards and Solutions in Construction

Science Seminar Series Recordings

Looking Back: The Important Role of Science in Fulfilling the Occupational Safety and Health Act
Featured current and past NIOSH leaders discussing key scientific accomplishments during their tenure for the NIOSH 50th anniversary.

Behind the Science: Spotlight on NIOSH Field and Laboratory Research Webinar
Highlighted three scientific research activities from field and laboratory researchers, which include the 30-year NIOSH involvement in mining-induced seismicity research; NIOSH research to identify a workplace hazard from inhaled butter flavoring vapors causing severe lung damage; and the research to practice story of the NIOSH respirator research and conformity assessment effort to advance technology, ensuring first responders are equipped with appropriate chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) protective respirators.

Quantifying and Understanding Impact: NIOSH Epidemiologic and Surveillance Activitiesexternal icon
Topics included mortality studies of chronic disease, the NIOSH Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) program, the Coal Workers’ Health Surveillance program, and indoor environmental quality investigations. Speakers from the NIOSH extramural State Occupational Safety and Health Surveillance Program (in California and Texas) also discussed their activities.

Spotlight on Intervention and Translational Researchexternal icon
Highlighted key intervention and translational research activities conducted by NIOSH researchers and extramurally funded partners. Topics included an overview of translational science at NIOSH, development of the continuous personal dust monitor, highlights from a communication campaign to increase use of personal flotation devices in commercial fishing, intervention research to decrease the effects of respirable crystalline silica in construction and the highlights from the 25-year Childhood Agricultural Injury Prevention Initiative at the NIOSH funded National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Safety and Health, which is one of 11 NIOSH-funded Ag Centers.

Social Media

In 2021, NIOSH shared our work over the last 50 years across our social media channels – Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram using #NIOSH50th. We shared the history of workplace safety and health and NIOSH research each Thursday on Instagram with Throwback Thursdays. We also posted our first Instagram Reel showcasing 50 years of research at NIOSH.

Partners and the NIOSH 50th

Current and past partners helped to highlight NIOSH successes and accomplishments resulting from collaborations. Below are just some of the ways our partners recognized this milestone and showcased their NIOSH partnerships.

Colorado School of Public Health, Center for Health, Work & Environment
The Center for Health, Work & Environment at the Colorado School of Public Health published a blogexternal icon recognizing its various accomplishments in occupational safety and health and worker well-being through its NIOSH-funded Education and Research Center and Center of Excellence for Total Worker Health®.

Millersville University
Millersville University held an online event to celebrate the 40th anniversary of its Occupational Safety and Environmental Health Program—a program that is 1 of the 28 recipients of the NIOSH-funded Training Project Grant. The day-long programexternal icon featured presentations by leading safety professionals and panel discussions, breakout sessions, tours, and interactions with current students. The program also recognized its partnership with NIOSH during this milestone event.

National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association
The National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association (NSSGA) published an articleexternal icon highlighting a few of the many collaborations between the NSSGA and its member companies and NIOSH on health and safety projects.

National Toxicology Program
The National Toxicology Program highlighted its common goals and collaborative research with NIOSH in the Environmental Factorexternal icon newsletter. A recent NIOSH Science Blog and the American Industrial Hygiene Association’s The Synergist external iconalso featured this collaboration.

Oregon Healthy Workforce Center
NIOSH Director, Dr. John Howard reflected back on the history of the institute and its important work and accomplishments in a podcastexternal icon hosted by the Oregon Healthy Workforce Center. The Center is one six NIOSH-funded Centers of Excellence for Total Worker Health®.

Oregon State University

Oregon State University captured its collaboration with the NIOSH Western States Division through a timelineexternal icon. This university’s partnership with NIOSH, which is focused on commercial fishing, has been ongoing for nearly a decade.

Southwest Ag Center
2021 marked the 25th anniversary of the Southwest Center for Agricultural Health, Injury Prevention and Education-one of 11 NIOSH-funded Centers for Agricultural Safety and Health. The Center, located at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler is recognizing this milestone and its long-standing partnership with NIOSH by highlighting its successes as a NIOSH grantee in its magazineexternal icon and featured a timeline of its NIOSH-funded research in its newsletterexternal icon.

Texas Education and Research Centers (ERC) and Agricultural (Ag)Center
The Texas ERC and Ag Center hosted the first annual Southwest Centers Occupational Health Research Symposium to recognize the NIOSH 50th. This event featured pilot research studies from the Southwest Centers for Occupational and Environmental Health and for Agricultural Health, Injury Prevention and Educationexternal icon.

Texas Public Health Association
The Texas Public Health Association highlighted NIOSH’s collaboration with the University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler in its newsletterexternal icon (p. 8). Through the NIOSH Training Project Grant, the university’s Occupational and Environmental Health Sciences Department has trained many occupational medicine physicians for more than a decade.

University of Cincinnati Education and Research Center
The 2021 Pilot Research Project at the University of Cincinnati Education and Research Center symposium featured projects summary presentations by recent awardees, a special keynote panel by alumni who currently work at NIOSH and recognition of the NIOSH 50th anniversary through discussions on various topics like the future of occupational safety and health.

University of Iowa
The University posted an articleexternal icon highlighting its decades-long partnership with NIOSH and the research and education its centers provide to protect worker health and safety. The centers are: the Heartland Center for Occupational Health and Safety (Education and Research Center), the Great Plains Center for Agricultural Health (Center for Agricultural Safety and Health) and the Healthier Workforce Center of the Midwest (Center of Excellence for Total Worker Health®).

University of Iowa Injury Prevention Research Center
The University of Iowa Injury Prevention Research Center highlighted its collaboration with NIOSH through a one-pagerpdf iconexternal icon on the achievements of this partnership in workplace violence. Through varied NIOSH grants, the center has been able to address this issue, which is the third leading cause of U.S. on-the-job deaths.

University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler
The university created a videoexternal icon to highlight the NIOSH 50th and its various accomplishments achieved through its partnerships with NIOSH.

West Virginia University (WVU)
The WVU Office of Research and Graduate Education hosted an “Afternoon of Science – NIOSH 50th Anniversary Celebrationexternal icon” that showcased the university’s accomplishments through its various partnerships with NIOSH through grants and other collaborations.

Page last reviewed: February 16, 2021