eNews: Volume 20, Number 6 (October 2022)

Volume 20, Number 6 (October 2022)

From the Director’s Desk

John Howard, M.D. Director, NIOSH

Celebrating the 45th Anniversary of the Education and Research Centers

This year marks the 45th anniversary of the NIOSH-funded Education and Research Centers (ERCs), which started in 1977 when nine ERCs were established. The ERCs began under the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act) of 1970 that mandates NIOSH provide an adequate supply of qualified personnel to carry out the purposes of the Act. The OSH Act aims to ensure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women through a series of mandates, which include providing research, information, education, and training to be used in the OSH field and for other purposes. The centers play a key role in helping meet this mandate and contributing to our Institute’s core mission of providing national and world leadership to prevent workplace injuries and illnesses.

Today, there are 18 ERCs located across 17 states as shown on the map. The ERCs conduct research; translate scientific discoveries into practice through education, training, and outreach; and offer graduate and postgraduate training and continuing education. Through their work, the ERCs prepare the future OSH workforce to respond to new challenges related to the changing nature of work, including technological advances, globalization, demographics changes in the U.S. workforce, and new and emerging risks.

From their origin through 2020, the ERCs saw more than 11,600 student trainees graduate. These graduates often work in federal, state, and local governments, not-for-profit agencies, and industry, academia, business, healthcare, and labor organizations. From 2005 through 2020, the ERCs also provided training to over 785,500 occupational safety and health professionals through more than 23,500 continuing education courses. In addition to their own continuing education classes, all the ERC continuing education programs partnered to launch a webinar series in 2019. The series provides up-to-date information on critical health and safety issues, focusing on Human Factors and Ergonomics and Industrial Hygiene.

In addition to continuing education, the centers implement outreach activities to increase awareness of work-related safety and health issues and translate science into practice. This outreach includes activities with businesses, community groups, worker advocacy groups, government agencies, and other institutions within each center’s respective region. Because the ERCs focus on multiple academic and scientific disciplines, this interdisciplinary nature gives rise to a broad spectrum of research priorities and activities. These range from studies investigating workplace exposures, to research on healthcare disparities and the effects of psychosocial factors on worker health and well-being.

This year, NIOSH recognizes the ERCs and their more than four decades of accomplishments through a series of blogs focused on the centers’ training, research, and outreach. Through the years, highlights of the centers’ successes have been featured in the Extramural Research and Training Program Annual Reports.

Looking forward, the centers will continue to support the important field of OSH with specific emphasis on enhancing diversity, equity, and inclusion in the safety and health workforce, focusing on the rapidly changing workplace. Through these efforts, they aim to continue a long-standing history of taking innovative approaches to meet the demands and needs in occupational safety and health. Happy 45th anniversary to our Education and Research Centers; we look forward to another 45 years!

Research Rounds

State and Territorial Health Departments Can Help Promote Total Worker Health®

Many state and territorial health departments (health departments) have occupational safety and health (OSH) and workplace health promotion (WHP) programs. However, these programs do not always work together. OSH-focused programs often concentrate on surveillance of work-related injuries and diseases while WHP programs might offer tools and training to local businesses.

Researchers from the NIOSH-funded Carolina Center for Healthy Work Design and Worker Well-being and CDC’s Workplace Health Research Network addressed this issue by looking at how health departments can incorporate Total Worker Health® (TWH) into their programs. TWH brings together all aspects of work in integrated interventions that collectively address worker safety, health, and well-being. Health departments that adopt TWH can help introduce this concept to workers and businesses in their regions.

Researchers sent a survey to 110 contacts across all 50 states, 5 territories, and the District of Columbia. Published in the Journal for Occupational and Environmental Medicine, the results showed that, even with limited awareness of TWH approaches, most respondents (57% OSH, 64% WHP) reported collaborations between OSH and WHP staff.

Results highlighted several motivators and barriers to teamwork between these programs. OSH and WHP staff were motivated to adopt TWH because it helped to build connections across their departments and work together on innovative projects. They also recognized that low-wage workers, who face both high work-related and chronic disease risks, would benefit from a holistic TWH approach. Barriers included insufficient funding, different funding sources with nonaligned goals, and insufficient staff to support working together.

An example of how to foster joint efforts between OSH and WHP is for health department leadership to place staff from both programs in the same physical space or the same organizational unit. NIOSH Centers of Excellence for TWH can also play a critical role in training their health department colleagues in basic TWH approaches.

More information is available: Let’s Get Started With Total Worker Health Approaches | NIOSH | CDC

Survey Responders Versus Non-responders: More Similarities Than Differences in Agriculture

If, like most people, you have ever declined to respond to a survey for one reason or another, you may not have realized that non-responders can skew survey results. This so-called “non-response bias” occurs when non-responders and responders differ enough in background or experiences that the survey results do not represent the whole group.

Because surveys are an important part of monitoring work-related illnesses and injuries, researchers want to understand the effects of non-response bias in agriculture and other hazardous industries. In this study, researchers at the NIOSH-funded Central States Center for Agricultural Safety and Health at the University of Nebraska Medical Center compared age, gender, and other characteristics between survey responders and non-responders working in agriculture. In May 2018, they used a nationwide database to identify 16,826 farmers and ranchers, mailing each a survey about work-related illness and injury. The farmers and ranchers lived in Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Nebraska, and South Dakota.

Overall, 2,977 farmers and ranchers responded to the survey and 13,849 did not, for a response rate of 18%, according to the study recently published in the Journal of Agricultural Safety and Health. The two groups were similar in age, gender, education, and farm characteristics like size, crops, and animals raised. Compared to non-responders, however, responders were much more likely to be married.

To compare early versus late responders, researchers looked at injury information for 1,667 early and 1,309 late responders, which were those who replied to the survey only after they received a reminder. Researchers found that early responders reported slightly more injuries and more medical care for injuries than late responders. Although these differences were too small to affect the survey results, researchers suggested more studies are needed to understand why the differences occurred.

More information is available: Agricultural Safety | NIOSH | CDC

Locations of the 18 ERCs across the United States.

Locations of the 18 ERCs across the United States. See the NIOSH ERC web page for details. Image by NIOSH

NIOSH eNews is Brought to You By:

John Howard, M.D., Director
Christina Spring, Editor in Chief

Managing Editor
Tanya Headley

Section Editor
Anne Blank, Research Rounds
Kiana Harper, Highlights & Monthly Features

Contributing Editors
Sarah Mitchell

Copy Editor
Cheryl Hamilton

Technical Support
Steve Leonard, Technical Lead
Margaret Bertsch, Web Developer

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Key Information for Hurricane Clean Up Workers
The NIOSH Hurricane Key Messages for Employers Workers and Volunteers provides information to help protect the health and safety of those providing recovery assistance in the days following a hurricane. The document provides key messages associated with to the multiple hazards related to storms, floods and hurricanes. These messages are also available in Español (Spanish), 中文 (Chinese), and Việt (Vietnamese). Learn more on the NIOSH Storm/Flood and Hurricane Response page.

Monkeypox Workplaces and Businesses Toolkit
This new toolkit shares information and resources to help employers and workers prevent the spread of monkeypox in the workplace. Included are important considerations for employers and workers, as well as links to recommendations that apply to workplaces and businesses.

Join the NIOSH Counterfeit N95 Challenge
NIOSH recently launched the “NIOSH Counterfeit N95 Challenge” in partnership with NASA Tournament Lab and HeroX. The challenge seeks new ideas for solutions that will assist vendors and purchasers in identifying counterfeit N95 filtering facepiece respirators. The submission deadline is December 1, at 2 p.m. (PST). There will be a webinar October 4 at 2 p.m. (EDT) that will provide more information on the challenge.

Join Us for the 2022 Prevention through Design (PtD) Award Ceremony
On October 11 at 1:30 p.m. (ET), the NIOSH Prevention through Design (PtD) program will host the 2022 PtD Award Ceremony. This award event is a collaborative effort of NIOSH, the American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP), and the National Safety Council (NSC). Dr. Chris Whittaker (NIOSH), Mr. Paul Vincent (NSC), and Ms. Pam Walaski (ASSP) will provide remarks in honor of the nominees and 2022 award recipient. Register now to join us in recognizing outstanding leadership in PtD!

World Trade Center Health Program 9/11 Online Exhibition
The NIOSH World Trade Center (WTC) Health Program has a new online exhibit titled Health Effects of 9/11, devoted to raising awareness about the ongoing health effects linked to 9/11 exposures. This is the first iteration of the exhibition; a physical installation is being planned for the David J. Sencer CDC Museum in Atlanta at a future date. Direct questions or comments to WTCHP_Exhibit@cdc.gov.

r2p logoBlue and Red

United States Pharmacopeial Convention Joins NIOSH in Renewing Partnership
NIOSH and the United States Pharmacopeial Convention (USP) are pleased to announce the renewal of their partnership agreement to continue efforts to advance safety and health management programs for healthcare workers. For more information, contact Jerald Ovesen.

Upcoming Webinars:

  • Promoting a Sustainable Work-nonwork Interface
    Join us October 20 at 3 p.m. (ET) for a special National Work and Family Month webinar titled “Promoting a Sustainable Work-nonwork Interface.” The webinar will include presentations on improving work schedules in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic and on COVID-19 and women. An interactive Q&A discussion will follow, and free continuing education is available. This event is hosted by the National Occupational Research Agenda, Healthy Work Design and Well-being Council and the NIOSH Total Worker Health® Program. Read more and register.
  • Dispatches From the Future: Future Forces Shaping Work and Health
    The next Foresight Friday @ NIOSH webinar is October 21 from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. (ET). Rachel Maguire, Research Director at the Institute for the Future (IFTF), will provide highlights from IFTF’s research into how the changing nature of work is influencing the health of individuals, families, and communities over the coming decades. Read more and register.

Monthly Features

Federal Register Notice

Advisory Board on Radiation and Worker Health (ABRWH), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)
The notice was posted on September 2. The meeting will be held on October 20. Comments must be received by October 13.

Proposed Data Collection Submitted for Public Comment and Recommendations: Evaluation of the Effectiveness of the Training and Education Modules in the North American Fatigue Management Program.
The notice was posted on September 12. Comments must be received by November 14.

Proposed Data Collection Submitted for Public Comment and Recommendations: Evaluation of the CDC/NIOSH Health Worker Mental Health Campaign.
The notice was posted on September 16. Comments must be received by November 15.


Services Council: Protecting Temporary Workers
The Services NORA Council—in partnership with the American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP), the American Staffing Association (ASA), and the Safety and Health Assessment and Research for Prevention (SHARP) program within the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries—developed a set of best practices that aim to help host employers protect the safety and health of temporary workers. These best practices are organized into three sections: evaluation and contracting; training for temporary workers and their worksite supervisors; and injury and illness reporting, response, and recordkeeping.

News from Our Partners

“Employment and Job Characteristics” New Social Determinants of Health Domain
The Community Preventive Services Task Force (CPSTF) recently added “Employment and Job Characteristics” as one of the six domains to the Social Determinants of Health (SDOH). While “work” has long been acknowledged as an SDOH, it had been listed under two of the traditional five domains of the SDOH (Employment Stability and Social and Community Context) with its impact on health limited to workplace exposures. Including “Employment and Job Characteristics” as one of the six domains recognizes work’s influence over health, beyond working conditions. This new definition could lead to a greater consideration of work as a contributing factor to health inequities and as a potential way to improve them.


  • Calling All Occupational Safety and Health Professionals: Total Worker Health® Survey
    The Center for Promotion of Health in the New England Workplace (CPH-NEW), is asking occupational safety and health professionals to take a 10–15-minute anonymous survey to help identify the specific knowledge and skills that professionals need to bring Total Worker Health (TWH) practices to their organizations. Responses will help educators design future training. If you have questions, contact Suzanne Nobrega at CPH-NEW, a NIOSH Center of Excellence for TWH.
  • Construction Workers Needed for Survey, Please Share!
    NIOSH and partners need your help disseminating this survey to construction workers and construction organizations. The survey will gather information on non-pharmacological pain management approaches used among construction workers. An important goal of the survey is to provide data to inform improved construction workplace prevention programs and interventions. The deadline to take the survey is November 25. The survey was developed by NIOSH funded scientists Dr. Aurora Le at the University of Michigan and Dr. Sang Choi at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.

Conferences, Meetings, Webinars, & Events

This page provides a list of publicly available occupational safety and health-related conferences, meetings, webinars, and events sponsored by NIOSH as well as other government agencies, and nongovernment agencies, such as universities, professional societies, and organizations.