NORA Healthcare and Social Assistance Sector Council

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The NORA Healthcare and Social Assistance (HCSA) Sector Council brings together individuals and organizations with a shared interest in improving the safety and health of workers in this industry sector. HCSA Council participants share information, form partnerships, and promote adoption and dissemination of solutions that work. Contact the sector coordinator or NORA Coordinator to volunteer.


Safety Culture in Healthcare Settings is a healthcare worker training course that provides scientific and evidence-based information. It focuses on six core competencies designed to increase knowledge about work-related hazards and address organizational and personal strategies to promote a safe and healthful work environment. 

Stop Stick

Stop Sticks was originally created by NIOSH but is now updated and maintained by the NORA Healthcare and Social Assistance Sector Council. The Stop Sticks campaign is a communication intervention aimed at raising awareness among health care workers about their risk of workplace exposure to bloodborne pathogens from needlesticks and other sharps related injuries. This campaign has demonstrated positive impact on the knowledge, behaviors, and attitudes of health care workers.

Research Agenda
National Occupational Research Agenda for Healthcare and Social Assistance (HCSA)

The NORA HCSA Sector Council identified research priorities for the third decade of NORA (2016-2026) in the National Occupational Research Agenda for HCSA. The agenda identifies 17 research objectives for the nation.

Research objectives for the nation:

Worker safety and patient safety

  1. Assess how work organization impacts both worker and patient safety.
  2. Assess the impact of organizational culture and leadership on worker and patient safety including satisfaction/quality of life.
  3. Investigate the epidemiology of workplace violence in health care and identify effective strategies for prevention and mitigation.

Infectious diseases and sharps safety

  1. Determine the effectiveness of innovative technologies and organizational strategies to improve recommended standard and transmission-based precautions in healthcare settings.
  2. Promote development and identify impact of occupational infectious disease surveillance to improve infection control and biosafety practices in healthcare settings in order to minimize or eliminate healthcare personnel exposures to infectious diseases and to better understand how these diseases spread.
  3. Assess awareness and increase knowledge of sharps injury prevention programs, and improve injury surveillance programs designed to prevent sharps injuries among healthcare personnel.
  4. Determine the impact of current and new interventions and technologies designed to prevent sharps injuries among healthcare personnel.

Safe patient handling and mobility

  1. Facilitate safe patient handling and mobility in healthcare systems by conducting research to develop and assess cost-benefit tools, workplace design and equipment management protocols, and strategies to improve sustained support of safe patient handling and mobility programs by workers, managers, and executives.
  2. Conduct special topics research to improve safety in areas with distinct safe patient handling and mobility needs and explore the potential use of new, non-traditional assistive devices.
  3. Develop and evaluate updated safe patient handling and mobility education in nursing schools and healthcare workplaces, and initiate new research to address gaps in safe patient handling and mobility education.

Slips, trips and falls

  1. Conduct research that develops, implements, and evaluates prevention programs and design strategies that decrease the risk of slip, trip and fall incidents and identify barriers to intervention implementation.

Hazardous drugs and other chemicals

  1. Develop and implement methods to identify, assess, control and prevent exposure to hazardous drugs, biological pharmaceuticals, reproductive hormones and other chemicals (e.g., cleaners, disinfectants, sterilants) in acute care human and veterinary healthcare settings and for difficult-to-access, low wage and underserved workers in home care, animal care, day care and other social services.
  2. Identify and evaluate methods to promote adoption and implementation of hazardous drug safe handling programs in non-hospital settings and veterinary practices.

Veterinary/animal care safety and health

  1. Increase knowledge about, implement strategies to mitigate, and evaluate existing prevention strategies regarding biological, physical and psychological hazards to veterinary and animal care workers.


  1. Develop or adapt, implement, and evaluate interventions found to be effective in acute healthcare and other settings for long term care, home care, home healthcare, correctional care, child care, and other social services.
  2. Explore the impact of emerging and existing work organization factors and nontraditional systems on worker health and safety, with a particular emphasis on low-wage occupations.
  3. Establish a strong focus on challenges to the safe care of people in their home environment that engages a broad range of stakeholders in identifying issues and developing solutions.
Sector Description

There are more than 21 million workers covered by the NORA Healthcare and Social Assistance sector, with jobs that fall under three major North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes. This sector includes:

  • Medical personnel such as doctors, dentists, nurses and other medical professionals,
  • Social assistance workers such as child care and community housing, food and relief services.
  • Veterinary medicine and animal care workers, such as veterinarians and vet techs, dog groomers, and technicians in zoos and aquariums.

Healthcare and social assistance are grouped together because many organizations provide a mix of healthcare and social assistance. Because of the many similarities between healthcare and animal healthcare, this sector also includes workers engaged in veterinary medicine and pet care.  Workers in the healthcare and social assistance industries face many occupational health and safety issues, including

  • musculoskeletal disorders,
  • infectious diseases,
  • violence, and
  • exposure to hazardous drugs and other chemicals.

The NIOSH Healthcare and Social Assistance Program facilitates the work of the Council and coordinates NIOSH research in this sector.