Statement on Labor Day 2004: John Howard, M.D., Director, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)
September 2, 2004
Contact: Fred Blosser (202) 401-3749
Labor Day was first celebrated as a federal holiday in 1894. At that time, new immigrants were entering the U.S. work force in great numbers. Advanced technologies were revolutionizing the nature of business and reshaping the working lives of men and women.
In those respects, the energies that transformed factories, fields, and offices at the turn of the last century are not fundamentally different than those that are sweeping today’s workplaces. A vibrant work force and new technologies are helping to fuel modern economic growth and U.S. leadership in the world market.
I am proud that the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) plays a role in that process. Working closely with many partners, we are planning and conducting research to build occupational safety and health into the changing landscape of the modern workplace. By so doing, we are helping to foster a safe, healthy, productive work force. Among these initiatives are the following:
- We are teaming with our colleagues and clients to fashion innovative risk communication strategies that will bridge differences in languages and cultures. Those strategies will make safety and health information more meaningful, useful, and effective for new immigrants on the job. We have made a start by developing new Web resources and printed materials for Hispanic workers, including the NIOSH Spanish-language web page, NIOSH en espanol, at www.cdc.gov/spanish/niosh/. Later this month, we will take further steps by convening a symposium of industry, labor, government, and community partners to explore ways for addressing the unique safety and health needs of new immigrants.
- Under the National Nanotechnology Initiative, we are working as part of a broad interagency effort to assess the occupational and environmental health properties of nanoparticles. The physical characteristics of these very tiny particles hold promise for exciting advancements in medicine, construction, and other applications. However, their potential health effects for employees in the manufacture and use of nanomaterials are not well understood. With partners in the U.S. and abroad, NIOSH in October will co-sponsor the first international symposium on nanotechnology and occupational health. More information on NIOSH’s nanotechnology research program can be found at on the Web at www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/nanotech/.
- In our new Research-to-Practice (r2p) initiative, we are strategically working with our partners to develop new products and services that occupational safety and health practitioners can use to prevent work-related injuries and illnesses. Examples of these innovations are described at www.cdc.gov/niosh/r2p .
As we look ahead to continued progress with our partners and stakeholders, we wish everyone a safe and reflective Labor Day 2004.