The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) within the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). NIOSH, the federal agency responsible for research and prevention of workplace hazards, is headquartered in Washington, D.C., and has facilities in Anchorage, Alaska; Atlanta, Georgia; Cincinnati, Ohio; Morgantown, West Virginia; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and Spokane, Washington. Currently, there are 127 million individuals, 16 years of age or older, in the United States workforce. The workforce is aging, becoming more ethnically and racially diverse, and includes more women. Safety and health hazards experienced by workers have implications for their personal lives, their productivity, and the productivity of the nation as a whole. According to a NIOSH-funded study published in 1997, work-related injuries cost the nation more than $145 billion and work-related diseases cost an additional $26 billion, making the total financial burden a staggering $171 billion (1992). While occupational health research has improved worker protection against many hazards and diseases, much remains to be done. Workers are still at risk for noise induced hearing loss and exposed to lead and silica, two long-recognized occupational hazards that cause chronic lung disease. As the workplace and workforce change, new hazards emerge. Violence is now a threat in the workplace, latex allergies are increasing among health care workers, new chemicals and processes place workers in danger, and the long-term effects of many exposures remain unknown. NIOSH continues to reduce work-related injuries and illnesses by conducting research, publishing recommendations for preventing work-related injuries and illnesses, and training professionals in occupational safety and health. An unhealthy working environment affects workers' health and productivity, and may even render them unable to work. The consequences of occupational safety and health hazards are reflected in the following statistics: In 1996 on a typical day in the United States, 16 workers died from injuries. Each day, an average of 137 workers died from work-related diseases. According to the National Safety Council, the costs for occupationally-related injuries exceeded $121 billion in 1996. NIOSH is committed to making the workplace a safer environment for all people. NIOSH is constantly faced with new challenges as the workforce grows older and changes in demographic composition, as individuals work longer hours, and as issues facing workers evolve. NIOSH has been conducting health research and making recommendations for preventing occupational illness and injury since its inception in 1970. The Occupational Safety and Health Act created both NIOSH and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), giving each unique responsibilities and placing them in different governmental departments. While NIOSH is charged with conducting research and implementing prevention activities, OSHA is required to promulgate regulations and enforce health and safety standards in the workplace and is part of the Department of Labor. FY 1997 marked completion of the transfer of the health and safety research programs from the former U.S. Bureau of Mines to NIOSH. In FY 1997, NIOSH's total operating budget was $173 million and NIOSH staff numbered 1,364. As required by the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA), NIOSH developed four Institute-wide strategic goals in FY 1997. The complete version of the NIOSH Strategic Plan is available on the NIOSH Home Page at http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/
. These goals complement the goals set out by both DHHS and CDC. The four NIOSH goals--targeting of research, surveillance, prevention, and information dissemination and training-- represent the broad spectrum of NIOSH's work. It is the interplay of these goals that has and will make the vision of this Institute--safer and healthier workplaces--a reality. To best describe NIOSH's accomplishments during FY 1997, this Report of Activities has been organized around the Institute's four strategic goals. This Report highlights the work of the Institute during FY 1997 and it is not an exhaustive account of Institute-wide activity.