Fiscal Year 2019 Extramural Research Program Highlights
Specialty Training Programs
NIOSH funds the Training Project Grants (TPGs), the new Commercial Fishing Occupational Safety Training Grants funded at the end of FY 2019, and the Miner Safety and Health Training Program—Western United States cooperative agreement. Selected highlights from TPGs and the Miner Safety and Health Training Program— Western United States are provided below.
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 2019.
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 Occupational Health Internship Program. 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 is also discussed on this page.
NIOSH Training Project Grants by Discipline
TPGs offer an important service by providing enough qualified professionals to carry out the Occupational Health and Safety Act of 1970. TPGs 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, 2018, through September 30, 2019, the TPG researchers published 13 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 2018–2019, the TPG academic training programs graduated 256 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, FY 2019
|Program Area||Trainees||Graduates||Employed in occupational safety and health
field or seeking advanced training (%)
|Industrial Hygiene||314||107||107 (100)|
|Occupational Safety||335||102||101 (99)|
|Occupational Medicine||31||17||17 (100)|
|Allied Disciplines||107||30||27 (90)|
Training Project Grant (TPG) Program Achievements
Mapping Tool Helps Companies Purchase Safe, Efficient Office Equipment
Office workers are at high risk of experiencing musculoskeletal, or soft-tissue, disorders from repeated motion and awkward positions like sitting long hours at a computer. Previous research shows that safe and efficient, or ergonomic, office equipment can help reduce the risk. But obtaining the right equipment can sometimes be challenging.
Researchers at the Ohio University TPG used a tool called value-stream mapping to collect information about finding and purchasing, or procuring, ergonomic computer workstations by depicting the process from beginning to end. They first surveyed 548 office workers at a large university about work-related muscle pain associated with computer workstations, including mouse controllers, keyboards, and adjustable chairs. Researchers also surveyed workers about their satisfaction with the equipment’s procurement process. Using the survey results, the researchers created value-stream maps of the procurement process for the computer workstations. Next, they asked 331 workers for details about how they procured the equipment and then revised the value-stream maps based on these responses.
The value-stream maps helped the researchers collect and display information that improved the procurement process. The workers in this study also expressed much greater satisfaction when their departments consulted an expert in ergonomics before buying new computer workstations. These results highlight that value-stream maps can help companies find and purchase effective ergonomic equipment to help prevent work-related musculoskeletal disorders. The study was published in the journal Professional Safety.
- Mapping Tool Helps Companies Purchase Safe, Efficient Office Equipment
- Value Stream Maps: Improving Procurement of Ergonomic Office Equipmentexternal icon
Increasing Diversity of Trainees in Occupational Safety and Health
The University of Wisconsin–Stout’s Graduate Program in Risk Control and Safety Management is a unique TPG that recruits trainees from undergraduate programs in engineering, science, management, and business. The program has a strong recruitment plan to reach and retain underrepresented and underserved groups in the occupational safety and health field. This includes the grant’s principal investigator directly contacting students from groups like the National Black Student Union, seeking those who show technical and people-oriented competencies that will benefit the risk control and safety management profession.
Other recruitment and outreach activities include (1) working with multicultural offices at various University of Wisconsin campuses, and (2) using a dynamic website and other marketing materials, including testimonials from alumni from underrepresented and underserved backgrounds. Because of these recruitment efforts, during the 2019–2020 academic year, 42% of the program’s student base consisted of underrepresented and underserved groups, as well as international students. Annual enrollment is generally between 20 to 30 students.
The University of Wisconsin–Stout TPG’s curriculum reflects the needs, expectations, and challenges of the field of occupational safety and health, as well as property and environmental protection. The risk control perspective requires students to be competent beyond safety regulatory compliance. The philosophy of risk control attempts to extend, elevate, and integrate the technical areas of safety engineering, industrial hygiene, and environmental regulations from operational levels to managerial concerns. Classes are offered in the daytime and evenings to accommodate currently employed professionals.
Long-standing TPG Offers Dual Training in Industrial Hygiene and Chemistry for Undergraduates
The University of North Alabama Industrial Hygiene Program was developed in the late 1970s in response to the passage of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. It became a TPG in 2000 and is one of NIOSH’s oldest training grants. The program offers a double major in industrial hygiene and general chemistry, preparing its graduates for entry-level positions in industry, government, and other organizations as industrial hygienists or industrial chemists or for entry into graduate studies in chemistry or occupational safety and health.
The academic program has a rigorous curriculum and aims to (1) promote and further the recruitment of qualified students into occupational safety and health, (2) support and strengthen continuous academic improvement, and (3) expand and develop the educational opportunities and services of the Industrial Hygiene Program. The program is accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology and is engaged in continuous improvement and evaluation. The University of North Alabama has earned a reputation for graduating a pool of qualified individuals who are providing valuable services to workers and employers in the North Alabama region and beyond.
Through the IAFF, NIOSH supports a nationwide program to enhance the capabilities of firefighters engaged in emergency response through training. The training is site- and trade-specific and aims to reduce on-the-job injuries, illnesses, and fatalities related to emergency response. Therefore, responders are better able to protect the communities they serve.
The IAFF has a long working relationship with NIOSH. IAFF’s Emergency Responder Training Program is 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 firefighters make each and every 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, IAFF provides real-world training in HazMat response. Furthermore, 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, IAFF developed an Opioid Crisis Toolkit, which uses the protocols, state-of-the-art responses, and resources available to firefighters.
In FY 2019, IAFF delivered 58 classes to 1,158 students, totaling 20,720 contact hours.
Table. Emergency responder training classes, FY 2019
|Confined Space Operations||24 hours||3||57||1,368|
|Emergency Response to Terrorism: Operations||8 hours||13||266||2,128|
|First Responder Operations||24 hours||33||659||15,816|
|Illicit Drug Labs||8 hours||9||176||1,408|
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 FY 2019, 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 FY 2019, the program trained 1,538 mine workers through 67 courses. Trainees included miners, supervisors, and undergraduate and graduate engineering and geology students. The program 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. Trainers across all mining service sectors throughout the Western United States have been taught ways to improve safety training. These activities improve the transfer of best safety practices to the workplace while increasing the number of workers served.
Educational Experiences for University Students, Faculty, and Staff
Among its various training focus areas, the Colorado School of Mines (CSM) educates future workers in the mining industry. CSM provided training in FY 2019 for undergraduate and graduate engineering and geology students in areas related to OSH. CSM aims for these students, who will work in extraction industries like mining, to apply safety and health principles to their work by exposing them and their faculty and staff to OSH courses and lectures.
Thirty students at CSM took a one semester credit course entitled “Introduction to Mine Safety and Health.” Through completing the class, they also fulfilled requirements for MSHA’s 30 CFR Part 48 New Miner Training for working at underground and surface mines. In addition, CSM provided four guest lectures entitled “Mining Safety 101” to 123 mining engineering students attending three different universities, including CSM. The other institutions included the University of Nevada–Reno and the University of South Dakota. CSM is currently in talks with other universities to deliver guest lectures in FY 2020.
Sharing Knowledge Regionally and Nationally Through Trainings and Presentations
During FY 2019, the University of Arizona trained more than 1,000 miners, trainers, and supervisors related to health and safety for miners through educational resources, including its computer-based, serious gaming software like “Harry’s Hard Choices” and “Harry’s Hazardous Day.” The university continues to improve “Harry’s Hard Choices.” Although the game focuses on mine emergency preparedness, it incorporates a variety of training topics like hazard recognition and mitigation. Therefore, the game can now be used for flagging and decreasing hazards via a dynamic, team-based training activity.
The university also delivered 11 presentations at national conferences and gave 16 invitational talks to a variety of groups. These included the 2019 Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration (SME) Annual Conference & Expo, the SME Annual Meeting, the 2019 Mine Safety and Health Conference, the New Mexico Mine Safety and Health Conference, and West Virginia University-Tech Engineering Seminar.