NIOSH Announces Re-Organization of Respiratory & Mining Divisions

October 29, 2015
NIOSH Update:

Press Contact: Jenise Brassell (513) 533-8360

In the past year, NIOSH submitted two reorganization plans for approval—one involving the Division of Respiratory Disease Studies (DRDS), and the other involving the NIOSH Mine Safety and Health Research Program—both reorganization plans were recently approved by CDC’s Management Analysis and Services Office (MASO).

Formerly known as the NIOSH Division of Respiratory Disease Studies (DRDS) with a focus on protecting workers from respiratory hazards, the newly named NIOSH Respiratory Health Division (RHD) reflects an expansion in vision and scope.

“The RHD name reflects our desire at NIOSH to do more than just prevent disease,” said NIOSH Director John Howard, M.D. “We want to optimize health, enabling the workers we serve to enjoy their lives to the fullest.”

The DRDS name originated in 1976, when operations based in the NIOSH-Morgantown facility were reorganized. The title reflected the division’s focus on studying how respiratory hazards such as coal, silica, asbestos, and endotoxin caused occupational respiratory disease. Over the next 40 years, DRDS studied these and many other respiratory hazards. DRDS has also provided important public health services, including the Coal Workers’ Health Surveillance Program, Health Hazard Evaluations primarily focused on respiratory issues, and the Spirometry Course Certification Program.

With its new name, RHD will still retain at its core the DRDS mission of protecting workers from diseases caused by respiratory hazards but will expand its efforts to also include the development and advancement of workplace-based interventions that improve respiratory health.

Details about the Respiratory Health Division (RHD) can be found in a recent Federal Register Notice: The NIOSH topic page on RHD can be found here:

A second reorganization has taken place within the mine safety and health research program to restore two mining research divisions—the Pittsburgh Mining Research Division (PMRD) and the Spokane Mining Research Division (SMRD).

Mining is vitally important to the U.S. economy, yet it has recently been reported that mine workers have lower quality-adjusted life expectancy than workers in any of the other original industry sectors. The recently approved reorganization completes the new structure at Pittsburgh with the formation of the new Workplace Health Branch and, with the previously approved reorganization of the Spokane Mining Research Division, the new structure of the Office of Mine Safety and Health Research (OMSHR) is complete.

“The two mining division reorganizations reaffirm and deepen our commitment to work with mining stakeholders to address occupational safety and health issues throughout the U.S., whether regional or national in scope,” said Howard.

NIOSH is the federal agency that conducts research and makes recommendations for preventing work-related injuries, illnesses, and deaths. For more information about NIOSH visit