The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is the federal agency responsible for conducting research and making recommendations for the prevention of work-related injury and illness. NIOSH is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the Department of Health and Human Services.
NIOSH Origins and Mission
The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act) created both NIOSH and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA is in the U.S. Department of Labor and is responsible for developing and enforcing workplace safety and health regulations. NIOSH is in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and is an agency established to help assure safe and healthful working conditions for men and women by providing research, information, education, and training in the field of occupational safety and health.
Information pertaining to the responsibilities of NIOSH are found in Section 22 of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (29 CFR § 671). The Institute is authorized to:
- Develop recommendations for occupational safety and health standards;
- Perform all functions of the Secretary of Health and Human Services under Sections 20 and 21 of the Act
- Conduct Research on Worker Safety and Health (Section 20)
- Conduct Training and Employee Education (Section 21)
- Develop information on safe levels of exposure to toxic materials and harmful physical agents and substances;
- Conduct research on new safety and health problems;
- Conduct on-site investigations (Health Hazard Evaluations) to determine the toxicity of materials used in workplaces (42 CFR Parts 85 and 85a); and
- Fund research by other agencies or private organizations through grants, contracts, and other arrangements.
The Federal Mine Safety and Health Amendments Act of 1977 delegated additional authority to NIOSH for coal mine health research. The mine health and safety law authorized NIOSH to:
- Develop recommendations for mine health standards for the Mine Safety and Health Administration;
- Administer a medical surveillance program for miners, including chest X-rays to detect pneumoconiosos (black lung disease) in coal miners;
- Conduct on-site investigations in mines similar to those authorized for general industry under the OSH Act; and
- Test and certify personal protective equipment and hazard-measurement instruments.
NIOSH provides national and world leadership to prevent work-related illness, injury, disability, and death by gathering information, conducting scientific research, and translating the knowledge gained into products and services. NIOSH's mission is critical to the health and safety of every American worker.
Each day, an average of 9,000 U.S. workers sustain disabling injuries on the job, 16 workers die from an injury suffered at work, and 137 workers die from work-related diseases. The Liberty Mutual 2005 Workplace Safety Index estimates that employers spent $50.8 billion in 2003 on wage payments and medical care for workers hurt on the job.
Disclaimer: This article is taken wholly from, or contains information that was originally published by, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Topic editors and authors for the Encyclopedia of Earth may have edited its content or added new information. The use of information from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health should not be construed as support for or endorsement by that organization for any new information added by EoE personnel, or for any editing of the original content.