Evolution of NORA

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Each decade of NORA has been grounded in fundamental questions that characterized the challenges of the time and helped guide the structure and purpose of that 10-year cycle.

First Decade (1996-2006)

In the first decade, the guiding questions were; “What will the workplace of 2006 look like?  What research will be needed to ensure a safe and healthy workplace?”  The planners of the first decade of NORA created 21 focus areas. Each area prioritized occupational safety and health research for NIOSH and the nation. NORA became a roadmap for the occupational safety and health community to identify, generate, design, and fund priority research.  By the time the first decade was launched, more than 500 individuals and organizations had contributed to the development of NORA. No previous occupational research agenda had captured such broad input.

Second Decade (2006-2016)

In the second decade, NORA was challenged to understand how we could better move research into practice in the workplace. NORA planners chose to create sectors that would serve as the conduit to U.S. workers.  Using the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes, planners organized codes into groups (initially eight, then 10) based on their similarities with workplace safety and health issues. During this decade, NIOSH organized 10 intramural sector programs and 24 intramural cross-sector programs to support NORA goals and priorities.

Third Decade (2016-2026)

The third decade of NORA faces slightly different challenges that ask “What research should we be doing in 2020 and beyond? Can an efficient and effective structure be found to identify and integrate research priorities?” The third decade of NORA continues with the 10 sectors organized by NAICS codes.  In addition, there are seven cross-sectors organized by the major issues affecting U.S. workers. Six of the cross-sectors also represent many of the focus areas under the Disease and Prevention category of the first decade. The seventh cross-sector, Healthy Work Design and Well-being, includes the contributions of three NIOSH cross-sector programs from the second decade: Work Organization and Stress Disorders, Economics and Total Worker Health®.