What Is NIOSH?

A man is wearing protective gear at work.
A man is wearing protective gear at work. (Image: XiXinXing/XiXinXing/Getty Images)

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health develops and establishes occupational health and safety standards, conducts research to develop new criteria for improving health and safety standards and makes recommendations on those standards.

Origins and Duties

The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 created NIOSH. It is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the Department of Health and Human Services.The Occupational Health and Safety Administration is responsible for investigation and fines after workplace injuries, but NIOSH is responsible for researching and developing policies to prevent workplace injuries before they happen.

Daily Activities

Some activities NIOSH agents may undertake include the investigation of hazardous working conditions, evaluation of workplace hazards, providing scientifically valid recommendations for worker protection after research, and education and training for individuals working or preparing to work in the field of occupational safety or health.

Significance and Impact

NIOSH's advocacy of workplace safety in traditional workplaces such as factories and warehouses is well-known. Less well-known, though, is the institute's involvement in nearly every other industry and endeavor. For instance, NIOSH’s Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation Program, which began in 1998, has investigated the deaths of hundreds of firefighters in the line of duty, and made more than 1,000 recommendations based on those investigations.

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