Partnerships to Advance Research


As part of the NIOSH Oil and Gas Extraction Program, researchers study occupational injuries, illnesses, and fatalities among U.S. oil and gas extraction workers. This research evaluates the risks workers may face when doing their jobs at oil and gas well sites.

To do this work, NIOSH researchers often partner with the oil and gas extraction industry. This includes employers such as operators, drilling contractors, and service companies, as well as industry organizations such as trade associations, insurance companies, and others. These partnerships often share health and safety data and information and access to workers and worksites for NIOSH researchers to evaluate workplace exposures, controls, and occupational risks.

NIOSH Research Teams in the Field. Photo by NIOSH

NIOSH Research Teams in the Field.

Purpose of Research
  1. Collect and analyze data to recognize occupational health and safety trends and emerging issues. Identify effective ways to lessen workplace risks.
  2. Identify work processes and activities where exposure to chemical, biological, or physical hazards may occur. Measure those potential exposures, including gases and vapors, particles, fumes, metals, noise, and radioactive material.
  3. Propose, evaluate, and recommend exposure controls to include engineering controls, substitution, administrative programs and policies that promote safe work practices, and personal protective equipment (PPE).
  4. Learn how mental health and impairment can impact worker health and safety.
  5. Understand how fatigue can contribute to work injuries or motor vehicle crashes that involve safety practices. Evaluate how effectively controls can be used to manage fatigue. One example of such controls would be fatigue detection technologies.
Benefits of Partnering with NIOSH

Partnering with NIOSH results in new information that can improve workplace health and safety. Those benefits are not limited to just the companies and employees that work directly with NIOSH, but to workers, companies, and associations across the oil and gas extraction industry.

Partnering with NIOSH: Benefits to the Industry

NIOSH has a mission to develop new knowledge in the field of occupational health and safety and to transfer that knowledge into practice.

The NIOSH Oil and Gas Extraction Program makes industry-specific, evidence-based recommendations for improving health and safety. NIOSH alerts the industry to workplace health and safety hazards identified and recommends how to reduce those hazards to protect workers.

Associations, organizations and companies in the oil and gas industry, or that support the industry, can enter into partnership agreements with NIOSH to improve workplace health and safety. These agreements outline the terms of each partnership, and often involve sharing information, developing health and safety products, and making recommendations to improve workplace health and safety.

Partnering with NIOSH: Benefits to Companies

NIOSH urges managers, supervisors, and health and safety professionals from operating, drilling, and servicing companies to partner with us.

Companies can rely on the experts within NIOSH to help find health and safety risks and address new and emerging issues. For example, a company can take part in NIOSH research to evaluate exposure and controls. A NIOSH field research team of industrial hygienists and engineers then evaluates worksites to find exposure levels.

Based on these worksite visits, the NIOSH team presents the collected data and results to the company verbally and in a letter. The letter summarizing the research findings goes only to the company. The summary will not include the names of workers who participate. This information can help company leadership set priorities to control possible workplace exposures at their worksites. All data collected by NIOSH with company partners is combined and summarized. Public reports of the data summary do not identify workers or companies involved.

Types of Partnership Agreements

Partnership agreements are confidential. The NIOSH Oil and Gas Extraction Program will publicly announce the partnership only if the partner agrees. If the company chooses to showcase its work with NIOSH, the announcement can enhance the company’s reputation as a leader in workplace health and safety in the oil and gas extraction industry.

Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)

A memorandum of understanding formally establishes a partnership with NIOSH for research studies and other activities.

The agreement usually extends for several years, and the partners can renew it. It can end at any time, and the partners will not have any legal responsibilities if the agreement ends.

Data Use Agreement (DUA)

The NIOSH Oil and Gas Extraction Program and an organization’s representative can sign a data use agreement to partner and share internal data for research or statistical purposes. Data use agreements describe the purpose of sharing data with NIOSH for not-for-profit research.

Partnering with NIOSH: Benefits to Workers

Workers at oil and gas well sites have deep knowledge of work processes and practices. After a company agrees to participate in a research study, NIOSH project staff will inform workers of all aspects of the study and ask for their consent to participate. Participation is voluntarily and anyone asked may choose not to participate in any or all aspects of NIOSH studies. Working with NIOSH researchers can give these workers a richer understanding of their individual workplace risks. The partnership will strive to improve health and safety for workers throughout the industry.

NIOSH researchers will send individual results to any participating worker who asks for them. The study results give workers a better understanding of their own exposure. Workers who take part in NIOSH research studies help NIOSH give better and more accurate recommendations to employers to improve health and safety conditions for their workers. This helps workers throughout the industry be safer and healthier as they do their jobs.

Featured Publications Developed through Industry-wide Collaboration
NIOSH, OSHA and Industry Organizations at a Partnership Agreement signing [2016]:
Featured Publications Alerting Companies to Identified Hazards