Fiscal Year 2018 Extramural Research Program Highlights
Specialty Training Programs
NIOSH funds programs that provide education and training in occupational safety and health in a variety of ways. Along with the ERCs described under Multidisciplinary Centers, NIOSH supports professional training in occupational safety and health through Training Project Grants (TPGs).
The Institute also funds the Miner Safety and Health Training Program—Western United States cooperative agreement, which connects the mining community with relevant information, resources, and methods that increase the volume and ability of safety training for Western States’ miners.
On this page, you will research highlights for our:
- Training Project Grants
- Emergency Responder Training Program
- Miner Safety and Health Training Program
You can also find the information on this page in the NIOSH Extramural Research and Training Program: Annual Report of Fiscal Year 2018.
NIOSH supports professional training in occupational safety and health through TPGs. Most TPGs are academic training programs that support undergraduate and graduate training. Located throughout the United States, these programs enrich the national network of graduate training the ERCs offer. Along with TPGs for traditional degree training programs, NIOSH supports TPGs that respond to the unique training needs of specialty groups. These include the Association of Occupational and Environmental Clinics (AOEC) Occupational Health Internship Program (OHIP). This program supplies specialty training and increases diversity among health and safety practitioners by recruiting and mentoring students from underrepresented and underserved minorities.
Through a TPG, the Alaska Marine Safety Education Association expands the network of port-based fishing safety instructors in Alaska and the United States. They achieve this through a train-the-trainer curriculum designed for the unique needs of the commercial fishing industry. NIOSH also provides funding for the Emergency Responder Training Program through the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), which this report later discusses.
NIOSH Training Project Grants by Discipline
NIOSH uses TPGs as a principal means of providing enough qualified professionals to carry out the Occupational Health and Safety Act of 1970. TPGs help train in specific disciplines to meet the needs of a diverse workforce. The graduates of TPGs serve a vital role in protecting and promoting the health and safety of U.S. workers, aligning with the goals of Healthy People 2020—to prevent diseases, injuries, and deaths due to working conditions. TPGs also serve as important resources on job-related safety and health issues for business, labor, government, and the general public.
TPG research outputs are the products of research activities and include publications. We collected publications by NIOSH-funded extramural researchers from principal investigator reports to NIOSH, the NIH Reporter database, the NIOSHTIC-2 database, and the PubMed database. From October 1, 2017, to September 30, 2018, the TPG researchers published 27 articles in peer-reviewed journals. Find a searchable database of NIOSH publications, which includes grantee final reports and publications, by using the NIOSHTIC-2 publications search.
Training Project Grant Trainees, Graduates, and Employment by Discipline
In academic year 2017–2018, the TPG academic training programs graduated 238 trainees with specialized training in industrial hygiene, occupational safety and medicine, and allied disciplines. These allied disciplines included occupational health psychology, risk management, occupational ergonomics and engineering, environmental health, and occupational epidemiology.
Table. Training project grant trainees, graduates, and employment by discipline, FY2018
|Program Area||Trainees||Graduates||Employed in occupational safety and health
field or seeking advanced training (%)
|Industrial Hygiene||304||64||64 (100)|
|Occupational Safety||240||79||77 (97)|
|Occupational Medicine||31||17||17 (100)|
|Allied Disciplines||281||78||75 (96)|
Training Project Grant (TPG) Program Achievements
The Positive Impact of an Innovative Train-in-Place Residency Program
In medicine and other fields that require years of education and training, fitting coursework into a busy work schedule may make a career change especially daunting. To address the issue, investigators at the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) TPG tested a train-in-place program that brings training in occupational and environmental medicine (OEM) directly to the workplace. This approach enables midcareer doctors to continue their practices while preparing for certification in OEM. Because some doctors may be unaware of the OEM field until later in their careers, the program also could help relieve the shortage in this field.
During the 2-year program, physicians trained at clinical sites located at their workplaces. In addition, participants completed 18 visits to UPenn’s primary training site. Participants received skills training that centered on patient visits or rotations. They completed individual projects with a mentor’s guidance. UPenn faculty periodically visited and appraised the various train-in-place locations. From 1997 through 2015, 109 out of 110 midcareer physicians graduated from the program, scored competitively on the occu¬pational medicine certifying examination, and achieved all training milestones. Five years after graduation, most participants continue to practice OEM throughout the United States. In addition to geographical diversity, work settings varied with program graduates joining academia, industry, and government, as well as hospitals and clinical settings. These findings show that train-in-place programs can help increase the number of OEM specialists by overcoming some of the barriers faced by midcareer physicians seeking a career change.
Creating Cost Effective Interventions and Tackling Contemporary Challenges in Safety and Health
Combining classroom and real-world experiences, Ohio University gives TPG trainees impactful internships and practical and academic knowledge in varied occupational safety and health areas like human factors engineering, industrial ergonomics, and systems safety. Trainees who completed internships in Ohio University’s safety department in FY2018 helped develop cost effective interventions to protect the university’s workforce. For example, trainees recommended changing the table legs to those that are moveable to make workstations adjustable—a move that was more cost effective than purchasing new tables. The adjustable workstations allow workers to have a normal or erect posture on the job and reduce risk factors related to static loading or constantly staying in the same position. Ohio University trainees also completed internships at state agencies, medical facilities, and food processing facilities, as well as automobile and heavy equipment manufacturing plants. These types of learning opportunities produce graduates who are well equipped to take on contemporary challenges facing today’s workforce.
Graduate Training Aims to Increase Diversity in Industrial Hygiene
Addressing a need for more minority occupational safety and health (OSH) professionals, the Tulane University TPG dedicates its resources and time to the recruitment of trainees in the field of industrial hygiene—students who are in minority groups, are disadvantaged, or at a midcareer point. The program focuses on raising the number of under-represented industrial hygiene professionals in government, labor, the private sector, and academia. It also allows early and midcareer OSH professionals to have more training opportunities in industrial hygiene. The structure of this Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology accredited program in industrial hygiene allows graduate students a full-time campus experience or a distance learning opportunity for working professionals.
Developing Practitioners and Addressing Relevant Occupational Safety and Health Issues in Upper New York Region
The University at Buffalo, SUNY TPG aims to provide highly qualified occupational safety and health (OSH) practitioners in upper New York. The TPG’s rigorous graduate program includes formal OSH research and real-world training, allowing students to gain both scientific and practical experience. During FY2018, trainees conducted research on varied topics relevant to vulnerable working populations. Trainees completed internships to gain valuable experiences on protecting workers’ safety and health. Recent graduates of the SUNY TPG are working full time in OSH in federal government and private industry sectors with responsibilities in developing and conducting safety training, performing occupational safety surveys, inspections, and compliance audits, and assisting in effective hearing conservation programs.
NIOSH funds a TPG in Emergency Responder Training Program through the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF). The IAFF’s mission through the program is to educate emergency responders about ways to stay safe and healthy. They strive to reduce on-the-job injuries, illnesses, and fatalities related to emergency response, so responders can better protect the communities they serve. Training takes place across the United States and its territories.
The IAFF has had a long working relationship with NIOSH. The association delivers training to all kinds of emergency response workers: fire fighters, emergency medical personnel, law enforcement, and public health workers. The IAFF’s record emphasizes job-related safety and health as part of a complete first responder training plan. IAFF’s teachings seek to improve knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors so that first responders adopt a safer approach to emergency response throughout their career. IAFF training is a resource that directly affects decisions fire fighters make each day.
This federally funded training program serves as an excellent model for an effective training program for first responders. With a team of instructors who are both certified fire service instructors and hazardous materials (HazMat) responders, the IAFF provides real-world training in HazMat response. Furthermore, the IAFF brings its training directly to the students in their own communities, developing training partnerships with thousands of fire departments throughout the United States. Because of this community-based learning, local responders receive training that addresses their unique concerns and challenges.
As 9-1-1 calls for opioid-associated emergencies continue to increase, all levels of EMS providers must be properly trained to handle these life-threatening events—including the administration of naloxone (NARCAN). In response, the IAFF developed an Opioid Crisis Toolkit that uses the protocols, state-of-the-art responses, and resources available to fire fighters.
In FY2018, IAFF delivered 73 classes to 1,370 students, totaling 28,664 contact hours.
Table 18. Emergency responder training classes, FY2018
|Confined Space Operations||24 hours||3||49||1,176|
|Illicit Drug Labs||8 hours||8||132||1,056|
|First Responder Operations||24 hours||52||1,026||24,624|
|Emergency Response to Terrorism Operations: Refresher||8 hours||6||88||704|
|Train the Trainer||24 hours||1||19||456|
|Emergency Response to Terrorism: Operations||16 hours||1||25||400|
|Chemical Process Industries||8 hours||2||31||248|
Despite many technological and work environment advances, mining remains one of the most demanding occupations in the United States. Because of the many challenges in the mining industry, the focus areas for mining training must cover a wide range of hazards and risks.
The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) Training Academy in Beckley, West Virginia, serves the mining community in the Eastern United States. Because this training program is not easy for miners in the Western States to access and certain aspects of mining operations differ in eastern and western operations, NIOSH has supported miner safety and health training in the Western United States since 1999.
For FY2018, two programs were funded in the Western United States: the Colorado School of Mines and the University of Arizona. This training provides a joint approach to reducing injuries to miners and other workers in mining operations. It also aims to translate research into workplace practices that (1) improve mining safety, (2) advance the safety and health of miners, (3) enhance the safety and health of other workers involved in mining operations, and (4) increase the quantity of qualified mine safety and health trainers in the Western United States.
Several of the main objectives of the training program follow:
- To develop, deliver, and manage the training needs of miners in the Western United States.
- To provide qualified instructors and faculty.
- To start and carry out “train the trainer” courses.
- To evaluate training effectiveness and impact on reducing injuries and illnesses to miners.
- To coordinate with existing training programs, like those offered by MSHA and MSHA-funded state programs, and in partnerships with industry, miners, and other agencies.
NIOSH intends for the program’s training to be consistent with OSHA and MSHA guidelines, without duplicating these agencies’ existing trainings.
The Miner Safety and Health Training Program provides critical safety and health training to protect workers in one of the most dangerous industry sectors in the United States. This program contributes to this overall goal by taking the following actions:
- Expanding the mission of NIOSH in protecting and promoting the health of mine workers. The trainings improved work practices, reduced work-related injury and illness, and increased the understanding of safety and health practices in Western mine worksites.
- Increasing the safety focus, total health awareness, and leadership competency of miners, frontline supervisors, superintendents, and managers representing operations throughout the United States, spanning all major commodity sectors in surface and underground mining.
- Directing the focus of mine-rescue training toward learning actual rescue skills, resulting in team members being better prepared to respond to all kinds of emergencies.
The Miner Safety and Health Training Program fills an important regional need. During FY2018, the program trained 1,280 mine workers through 49 courses. It is critical for underserviced populations working on mine sites, including contractors, suppliers, consultants, equipment manufacturers, and small mine operators. The program designs and uses active learning strategies for mine safety training. It has taught trainers across all mining service sectors throughout the Western United States ways to improve safety training. These activities improve the transfer of best safety practices to the workplace while increasing the number of workers served.
Development of Framework for Critical Control Management
In FY2018, the University of Arizona aimed to develop a framework in the Mining Sector to identify the most important critical controls or methods to control exposures to occupational hazards. To create the framework, university researchers used the critical control management approachexternal icon from the International Council on Mining and Metals as a template. They then collected input from mining industry experts on which controls mining companies use to prevent or lessen potential risks from material unwanted events. These are defined as incidences with major negative effects in terms of materials, reputational cost, or worker impact.
A dozen experts, with an average of 22 years of experience, representing mining, geotechnical-equipment manufacturing, and consulting companies, along with university faculty, provided this input in a workshop. Researchers asked participants to identify the most important material unwanted events and the related critical controls that companies use. The highest priority events included rock falls, slope failures, and tailing failures, and 65 critical controls were identified to keep workers safe during these events. The control methods included varied types of monitoring, engineering controls, and training. Next steps include the University of Arizona developing a website and an online database to share their findings and collecting additional data on critical controls from others in the Mining Sector.
Colorado School of Mines Implements Underground Mine Experience Into New Miner Training
The Colorado School of Mines is one of only a few institutions in the Western United States that includes an underground mine experience in its MSHA Part 46 New Miner Training. During this course, trainees spend a half day inside the Edgar Experimental Mine learning how to prepare for working in an underground environment. This preparation includes appropriate use of personal protective equipment, along with identifying possible hazards related to underground mining, ventilation, and ground support and scaling.