Public Safety Sector Council

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The NORA Public Safety Sector Council brings together individuals and organizations with a shared interest in improving safety and health for workers in this sector. Council members share information, form partnerships, and promote adoption and dissemination of solutions that work. Contact the Co-Chair or NORA Coordinator to volunteer.


The NORA Public Safety Council hosted a webinar: State of Research and Practice for Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS). PFAS are also called “forever chemicals” because they are resistant to breaking down. These are artificially produced chemicals used to enhance everyday products like stain resistant clothing and furniture, cosmetics, and food packaging material. PFAS exposure has been linked to an increased risk of negative health outcomes such as cancer (kidney and testicular), increased cholesterol levels, and high blood pressure. First responders are exposed to PFAS when putting out building and vehicle fires, using special class B foams that put out high-energy liquid fuel fires, and when wearing uniforms and protective clothing that use treatments/additives.

The webinar featured presentations from a diverse group of researchers, collaborators, and partners around PFAS in the public safety sector. The Public Safety Council also posted a summary of the webinar, Extinguishing the Risk of Forever Chemicals: State of the science to protect first responders, on the NIOSH Science Blog.

Research Agenda

National Occupational Research Agenda for Public Safety

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

Research objectives for the nation:

  1. Reduce cardiovascular disease, cancer, and other chronic diseases
  2. Reduce infectious disease transmission
  3. Reduce musculoskeletal disorders
  4. Reduce motor vehicle injuries
  5. Reduce workplace violence
  6. Promote healthy work design and well-being
  7. Improve surveillance
  8. Improve resilience/preparedness

Sector Description

The Public Safety sector includes five sub-sectors:

  • Fire service
  • Wildland fire fighting
  • Law enforcement
  • Emergency medical services
  • Corrections

These occupations fall under four specific North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes and are among some of the most dangerous. On a daily basis, these workers respond to emergencies occur that threaten people’s life, well-being, property, peace, and security, and may be putting their health, safety, and even lives on the line. Public safety workers are exposed to a variety of risks and stressors. They sometimes experience serious injuries from motor vehicle incidents, workplace violence, and musculoskeletal injuries.

The NIOSH Public Safety Program facilitates the work of the Council and coordinates NIOSH research in this sector.