Safe • Skilled • Ready Workforce Program

SSRW banner images

The mission of the Safe • Skilled • Ready Workforce (SSRW) Program is that every person, before they join the U.S. workforce for the first time or start a new job, has the foundational knowledge, skills, and abilities they need to stay safe and healthy at work and to contribute to a safe, healthy, and productive workplace.

Featured Items

New Set of Best Practices to Help Host Employers Protect Temporary Workers
The future of work brings new challenges to occupational safety and health, including how to best protect and promote the safety and health of workers employed through non-standard work arrangements, such as temporary agency work. Host employers of temporary workers (i.e., the clients of staffing companies) should do their part to optimize the safety, health, and productivity of their workers. The NORA Services Sector Council, NIOSH and partners have released a new set of workplace safety and health best practices for host employers with information on contracting with staffing companies, training, injury response, and more.

Nonfatal Occupational Injuries to Younger Workers — United States, 2012–2018 (September 2020)
A study published in the CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) reports that an estimated 3.2 million nonfatal injuries to young workers were treated in hospital emergency departments, with the highest rates among workers aged 18–19 years. In 2018, the highest percentage of injuries requiring at least one day away from work among workers aged 15–17 years was in the leisure and hospitality industry.

Program Description

In 2013, NIOSH launched the SSRW Program to build on two decades of young worker research at the Institute and to expand the focus to other groups who are disproportionately affected by workplace injuries and illnesses. The SSRW Program designs, implements, and evaluates foundational occupational safety and health (OSH) training programs for young workers (ages 15–24), contingent workers (those with a job they do not expect to last, such as temporary agency, contract, and on-demand workers), and workers with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Programs are structured around the NIOSH Eight Core Competencies to equip at-risk workers with the essential OSH knowledge and skills needed for safe, healthy, and productive work. The NIOSH Eight Core Competencies include concepts related to the predictable and preventable nature of work-related injuries and illnesses; hazard recognition and control; employer responsibilities and worker rights; work-related emergencies; and communicating about safety problems at work. The NIOSH Eight Core Competencies are designed to be general, portable to all jobs and industries, compatible with existing work readiness initiatives, and transferable to other settings.

Research Priorities

The SSRW Program research priorities, which are aligned with the NIOSH Strategic Plan for FYs 2019–2026, include:


Program Performance One-Page (PPOP)
The SSRW Program Performance One-Pager (PPOP) is a snapshot of our priorities, strategies, recent accomplishments, and upcoming work.

Selected Publications
Access NIOSH publications on the topics of young workers and contingent workers using the NIOSHTIC-2 database.

To learn more


Youth@Work—Talking Safety
Talking Safety is a free, fun, and engaging curriculum designed to equip middle- and high-school students with foundational occupational safety and health (OSH) knowledge and skills.

Safety Matters
A one-hour module, from NIOSH and the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA), for safety professionals to introduce workplace safety and health to young people in their communities.

Staying Safe at Work
A curriculum to teach workers with intellectual and development disabilities about OSH, adapted from Talking Safety by NIOSH and the Labor Occupational Health Program (LOHP) at the University of California, Berkeley.

Other Resources

Young Worker Safety and Health
A webpage with descriptions of NIOSH young worker projects and resources.

Protecting Temporary Workers
An OSHA webpage detailing the joint responsibilities of host employers and staffing agencies in providing a safe working environment for temporary agency workers.

NIOSH Science Blog
Check out various workplace safety and health topics and exchange ideas with leading researchers from NIOSH by accessing NIOSH science blogs about young workers and temporary/contingent workers.

NIOSH Occupational Health Equity Program
Learn about occupational health inequities and ways to reduce them.

Contact the Safe • Skilled • Ready Workforce Program with any questions at