NIOSH Research Programs

Safe • Skilled • Ready Workforce Program

Key points

  • The Safe • Skilled • Ready Workforce (SSRW) Program aims to prepare individuals with foundational workplace safety and health competencies, ideally before they join the U.S. workforce for the first time or start a new job.
  • New workers, including young workers and contingent workers are at high risk for workplace injuries and illnesses.


Three warehouse workers wearing yellow safety vests. In the background, a worker affixes a label to a box. In the foreground, a worker is talking to his manager.
Providing worker with the knowledge they need to stay safe. Photo by Getty.

To Learn More‎

This page provides information about the goals and activities of this NIOSH Research Program. For related prevention and safety information please visit Young Worker Safety and Health

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.

Program priorities

The SSRW Program has selected research priorities on the basis of burden, need, and impact and collaborated with other NIOSH research programs to write the research goals in the NIOSH Strategic Plan for FYs 2019-2026. Priority areas include (but are not limited to):

  • Increasing the use of existing safety and health programs and interventions and developing new programs and interventions for workers in non-standard work arrangements.
  • Reducing injuries and musculoskeletal disorders among young workers, contingent workers, and other workers who are disproportionately affected by workplace injuries and illnesses.

What we've accomplished

In 2022–2023, The Program:

  • Published Protecting Temporary Workers: Best Practices for Host Employers, which provides workplace safety and health best practices for companies employing temporary workers, in collaboration with the National Occupational Research Agenda Services Sector Council, American Society of Safety Professionals, American Staffing Association, and Safety and Health Assessment and Research for Prevention program.
  • Partnered with Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS) to study the implementation and effectiveness of a draft OSHA 10-hour training for career and technical education students in health sciences. Received Year 1 results in January 2023.
  • Trained staff from the Pacific Mountain Workforce Development Council (PacMtn) to deliver Safety Skills at Work, a draft curriculum for workers in workforce development programs.
  • Published a paper on workers experiencing increased risk of work-related fatigue due to factors such as irregular shifts, lack of fatigue management resources, and socioeconomic barriers.

What's ahead

In the future, the Program aims to:

  • Draft a workplace safety and health best practices document for staffing companies.
  • Begin Year 2 data collection for the M-DCPS OSHA 10-hour implementation and effectiveness study.
  • Deliver the Safety Skills at Work curriculum to contingent workers involved in PacMtn programs using trained PacMtn staff.
  • Collect data to assess the efficacy of the Safety Skills at Work training to promote improved workplace safety and health knowledge, attitudes, self-efficacy, and behavioral intentions.
  • Revise and update the Talking Safety curricula based on feedback from reviewers and lessons learned through SSRW research, including the addition of a new lesson on stress, mental health, and well-being.


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