Division of Surveillance, Hazard Evaluations, and Field Studies (DSHEFS)

The mission of the Division of Surveillance, Hazard Evaluations, and Field Studies (DSHEFS) is to provide National and International leadership for the detection and prevention of work-related illness through a focused program of surveillance, worksite evaluations, and research. To accomplish this mission, the Division conducts and coordinates surveillance activities and performs health hazard evaluations and industry wide health and exposure studies in working populations. Major programmatic activities include:


DSHEFS continuously monitors trends of occupational diseases and related workplace hazards to improve prevention and make the nation’s workplaces safer. Surveillance staff use many existing data sources from other organizations and develop national and state-based illness- and hazard-tracking systems to provide information about worker health to policy makers, researchers, practitioners, and the public. Technical assistance is provided to state partners to build state-based occupational health surveillance programs. DSHEFS promotes and supports the inclusion of industry and occupation (I&O) information in health surveys and medical and vital records to identify and track links between workplace exposures and illnesses. To facilitate broad use of I&O, DSHEFS’ web-based NIOSH Industry and Occupation Computerize Coding System (NIOCCS) is available www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/coding/overview.html. DSHEFS communicates surveillance findings, provides interactive web sites for sharing data, and develops educational materials to guide prevention and identify research gaps.

Health Hazard Evaluations

DSHEFS is the home of the NIOSH health hazard evaluation program. Through this free program, NIOSH responds to requests from employers, employees, and unions to evaluate concerns about possible work-related hazards in the workplace. In response to a request, NIOSH may provide written information, refer the requester to a more appropriate agency, call to discuss the problems and how they might be resolved, or visit the workplace to investigate the problem firsthand and offer recommendations on how to control a hazard or prevent the occurrence of occupational illness. DSHEFS posts reports of health hazard evaluation field investigations on its website so that others may benefit from the information. More information about the program is available at: www.cdc.gov/niosh/hhe.

DSHEFS also investigates work-related deaths caused by medical conditions (such as heart disease) in firefighters. Investigators meet with the decedent’s co-workers and review fire department and medical records. They prepare reports that make recommendations for preventing similar deaths. These reports are posted on the website at: https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/fire/.

Industrywide Studies

DSHEFS conducts industry wide studies to determine the incidence and prevalence of acute and chronic disease in the working population and their offspring, and to determine the nature and extent of acute and chronic responses to potentially hazardous agents in the work environment. These studies include clinical field studies, industrial hygiene field studies, and longitudinal record-based studies. Study results are communicated to workers, scientists, industry, and the public. These studies provide data for the development of health hazard controls and protective standards.

Worker Health Study Summaries from DSHEFS industry wide studies are available at: https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/pgms/worknotify/default.html.

State Surveillance Program

Work-related injuries and illnesses can be prevented, and successful approaches to making workplaces safer and healthier begin with having the data necessary to understand the problem. As part of its mission to prevent injuries, illness, and caused by hazards in the workplace, the NIOSH has established surveillance programs intended to assess the extent and severity (i.e., burden) of workplace injury and illness, to identify workers and occupations at greatest risk, to develop research and prevention priorities, and to measure the effectiveness of prevention activities. States have a central role in public health surveillance because they are uniquely positioned to utilize state-specific data sources and/or agreements for occupational health (OH) surveillance, and integrate surveillance with intervention and prevention activities as well as program evaluation. Visit the State Surveillance Program page.

Page last reviewed: March 28, 2018