What is The National Center for Productive Aging and Work?

warehouse workers facing the camera

The National Center for Productive Aging and Work (NCPAW) promotes lifelong well-being for workers and encourages a productive aging workforce. The Center also strives to improve worker health by integrating traditional occupational safety and health protection techniques with emerging efforts to promote health and prevent disease. The Center is hosted by the NIOSH Office for Total Worker Health® .


Over the past 15 years, the topic of aging and its role in occupational safety and health has received considerable attention at NIOSH. As part of this effort, NIOSH, along with its partners, asked the National Research Council and the Institute of Medicine to turn their attention to the older worker and to the interaction between work and the aging process. The Committee on Health and Safety Needs of Older Workers published their findings in the 2004 report entitled Health and Safety Needs of Older Workers.

The National Academy’s Committee’s report summarizes conclusions and presents detailed recommendations pertaining to three major themes that emerge from examination of the health and safety needs of older workers: (1) conducting informative research requires improved databases and data systems necessary to track the health and safety needs of older workers and the programs that address them; (2) research is needed to provide better understanding of the factors that relate to the health and safety needs of older workers; and (3) research is needed to identify and clarify the aspects of policies, programs, and intervention techniques and strategies that are effective and that are not effective in addressing the health and safety needs of older workers.

In the intervening years, NIOSH researchers turned their attention to the issues that arise from the increasing proportion of the American workforce which is “chronologically gifted.” Their work greatly advanced our knowledge of the health and safety risks for an aging workforce. However, important questions remain, and there exists a considerable gap between what we know about the changes that accompany the aging process and what organizations are actually doing, and should be doing, to address these changes across all age groups.

Our Mission

  • Develop Institute-wide research goals and leadership with regards to workers of all ages, as they age.
  • Facilitate both intramural and extramural collaboration when it comes to advancing research on the aging workforce.
  • Further develop knowledge on interventions and best practices for creating an “aging-friendly” workplace from the physical, emotional, economic and labor relations perspectives.
  • Develop and promote a broad range of translational products and resources that target workers, organizations, and sectors where aging issues are particularly salient.