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Inputs: National Research Agenda (NORA)

As the first decade (1996-2006) of NORA approached its end, NIOSH requested public input through its website and through public meetings around the country on the topics and types of research as well as the partners needed to continue to improve worker safety and health during the following decade (2006-2016). Workers, professional societies, organized labor, employers, researchers, health professionals, government officials and elected representatives provided input. The public comments submitted to NIOSH identified a need for research on the economic factors that affect worker safety and health, the economic consequences of worker injury and illness, and the cost and effectiveness of preventive measures. The following are a few examples of economic research needs identified by stakeholders for the second decade of NORA:

  • Studying the economic forces that affect the dangerous working conditions affecting fishers
  • Researching the social and economic consequences of depression and alcohol and drug abuse among healthcare workers
  • Studying the link between health and productivity as a tool for demonstrating to employers that it makes economic sense to invest in worker safety, health, and training
  • Developing objective measures of worker productivity and presenteeism
  • Developing cost-effective solutions to prevent repetitive motion injuries
  • Developing cost-effective interventions for fall protection in construction
  • Developing affordable behavior-based safety management in mining

In its second decade, NORA is organized around 10 Sectors and 24 Cross-Sector Programs, including Economics. To demonstrate how all the goals of the Economics Program relate to NORA Sector and Cross-Sector Program goals, a cross-walk table was developed. View a PDF version of the table (151 KB, 6 pages) that links all the economics goals --as of January 2011-- with the economics-related goals of other NIOSH programs. For example, the Economics (Intermediate) Goal 1.1 is linked with Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing Goals 1 and 4.1.3, Construction Goal 12.1, Manufacturing Goal 3.1.2, etc. Some economics goals (1, 1.3, 2.1, 3, 4, 4.1, and 4.2) could not be linked to any other program goals.

Aligning economics goals with other NIOSH program goals is challenging for at least two reasons. First, because economics is a cross-cutting approach or method, it is often addressed by lower-level goals, such as activities or projects, of the strategic plans of NORA Sectors that are overwhelmingly focused on injury and illness reduction at their strategic or intermediate goal levels. Second, each NIOSH program uses its own interpretation of how economic research and practice can address the program’s priorities. The Economics Program continues to work with its internal partners to improve the completeness and consistency of how economics goals and research are linked to other program goals and research.