From 1981 to 1983, NIOSH conducted the National Occupational Exposure Survey (NOES). The NOES was an inventory of commercial chemical products in use at representative sample of fixed-site facilities during the years 1981-1983. The objectives of the survey were to:
1) develop estimates of the number of U.S. workers potentially exposed to chemical, physical, and biological agents in selected industrial sectors
2) obtain data describing the nature and extent of these potential exposures and the degree to which businesses have implemented programs to reduce health problems
Learn more about NOES, how to access the data, data limitations, and more recent NIOSH hazard surveillance efforts.
From 1981-1983, NIOSH visited 4,490 randomly selected fixed-site worksites in 522 different industries that employed about 1,800,000 workers in 377 occupational categories. Participation in the NOES was generally voluntary, although NIOSH used its regulatory authority to enter some of the facilities (12 total) in cases where a substitute facility could not be obtained. Walkthrough surveys were done to observe potential occupational exposures to:
- biological agents
Most of the NIOSH effort was directed at identifying potential chemical exposures related to the use of commercial chemical products. Aside from measurement of noise levels, no sampling or measurement of actual worker exposures in the workplaces was done. Over 100,000 unique tradename commercial products were observed to be in use during the on-site visits. NIOSH subsequently contacted the manufacturers of the tradename commercial products to identify 13,000 chemical ingredients in those products as potential occupational exposures.
Field guidelines, sampling methodology, and an analysis of management interview responses have been published,,. However, estimates of the numbers of employees potentially exposed and conditions of exposure remain unpublished. The survey has not been repeated; At this time, there are no plans for another NIOSH survey like NOES due to feasibility and resource constraints.
Over the years, NOES data have been quoted in numerous NIOSH documents, journal articles, and major databases such as the Registry of Toxic Effects of Chemical Substances (RTECS) and the Hazardous Substances Data Bank (HSDB).
Access the Data
A subset of the NOES database is available in archived data files accessible at http://web.archive.org/web/20110716084755/http:/www.cdc.gov/noes/
The archived HTML files were created by NIOSH in 2002 from the NOES field data, and contain estimates of the numbers of employees potentially exposed to agents observed during the NOES by industry and occupation. The archived files also contain the number of agents observed by industry, agents rank ordered by the estimated number of employees potentially exposed, and estimated percentages of controlled and uncontrolled potential exposures by specific agent and industry. The raw field data including the conditions of potential exposure were not converted to a data format suitable for archiving, and are no longer available.
Please read the data limitations below, before accessing the data.
NOES Data Limitations
The NOES was an inventory of commercial chemical products in use at representative sample of fixed-site facilities during the years 1981-1983. The NOES data should NOT be used for assessing current worker exposures, or the number of workers potentially exposed currently, because the data are no longer representative.
- There have been extensive changes in U.S. industries since the early 1980’s, including:
- the number of workers employed among the industrial sectors (generally significantly fewer workers are employed in chemical-intensive industries)
- the commercial chemical products in use
- manufacturing process changes, including automation which reduces number of workers
- the specific formulations of commercial chemical products (use of the most toxic substances has generally been reduced due to regulation and consumer awareness)
- NOES did not define “exposures” using widely-accepted definitions in the field of industrial hygiene. Instead, every chemical ingredient identified in each commercial chemical product in use was, regardless of concentration, was considered to be an “exposure.” “Exposure” in this context means: identified as present, in any quantity, in the workplace without regard to actual contact with the worker via inhalation, ingestion or absorption.
- NOES did not consider the degree of hazard, concentration, frequency, or duration of contact in identifying an exposure. Hazardous chemical exposures resulting from process emissions, chemical reaction byproducts, and facility maintenance activities, such as metal fumes, carbon monoxide, asbestos fibers in air, or crystalline silica dust in air, were excluded from the NOES. Potential synergistic or additive effects of the multiple exposures in a single establishment were not considered.
- The following industries or establishments were excluded from the NOES:
- agricultural production
- any mining activity except oil and gas extraction
- railroad transportation
- private households
- finance institutions
- all Federal, State, and municipal government facilities
- all establishments with fewer than 8 employees
Recent NIOSH Hazard Surveillance Efforts
Recent hazard surveillance efforts have focused on healthcare workers and long-haul truck drivers.
Health and Safety Practices of Healthcare Workers
In 2011, NIOSH conducted the Health and Safety Practices Survey of Healthcare Workers. This anonymous, internet-based survey was conducted to better understand the extent to which healthcare workers may be exposed to hazardous chemicals, current exposure control practices for reducing potential exposures, and barriers to using exposure controls. The study population primarily included members of 21 professional practice organizations representing a diverse group of professional, technical and service occupations who use or come in contact with hazardous chemicals. These included antineoplastic drugs, aerosolized medications, anesthetic gases, chemical sterilants, high level disinfectants and surgical smoke.
Long-haul Truck Drivers
In 2011, drivers of heavy and tractor-trailer trucks accounted for 56% of all production and nonsupervisory employees in the truck transportation industry. There are limited data for illness and injury in long-haul truck drivers, which prompted the National Survey of Long-Haul Truck Driver Health and Injury. Interviewers collected data during 2010 from 1,670 long-haul truck drivers at 32 truck stops across the 48 contiguous United States that were used to compute prevalence estimates for self-reported health conditions and risk factors. The study found obesity and smoking were twice as common in truck drivers compared to other US workers. Sixty-one percent of long-haul drivers reported having two or more of the following risk factors:
- high cholesterol
- no physical activity
- six or fewer hours of sleep per 24-hour period
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- Page last reviewed: June 28, 2017
- Page last updated: June 28, 2017
- Content source:
- National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Office of the Director