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NIOSH director reflects on 2012’s successes

John Howard, M.D., the director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), recently published an article highlighting the agency’s 2012 milestones.

The director stressed the significant role NIOSH’s partnerships played in advancing research on the occupational health risks of nanotechnology. Similar partnerships also helped to produce a Fall Prevention Campaign that informed construction workers about risks, safety procedures, and fall protection equipment.

Collaboration with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) continued to be critical in 2012 as it allowed the agencies to share scientific data, produce studies, and issue hazard alerts that could help improve safety in areas like hydraulic fracturing, oil and gas industry motor vehicle safety, and through-the-ground emergency radio transmissions for miners.

Director Howard also discussed the importance of disaster preparedness and NIOSH’s efforts to enhance the safety of emergency responders by monitoring workers’ health during response efforts. These and future studies are intended to help ensure personal protective equipment (PPE) meets the changing needs of emergency responders.

“There are always uncertainties in predicting the future, but we know that the major changes that have swept the workplace and working life over the last decade – an increasingly diverse workforce, changes in working arrangements, more people nearing or reaching retirement age, impact of new technologies – will continue to influence events in the foreseeable future,” explained Howard. “A safe and healthy workforce is a vital component of U.S. economic growth and competitiveness.”

Join the national effort to improve workplace safety by providing workers with appropriate safety supplies and training.