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NORA, National Asphalt Partnership Honored as Semifinalists for Ford, Harvard Innovation Award

NIOSH Update:

Contact: Fred Blosser (202) 260-8519
May 4, 1998

Two historic research initiatives by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), including the National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA), were announced May 4, 1998, as semifinalists for a prestigious national award recognizing innovations in government.

The NIOSH initiatives were among the 19 federal semifinalists for the 1998 Innovations in American Government award. The award is sponsored by the Ford Foundation and administered by Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government in partnership with the Council for Excellence in Government. Ten winners will be selected later this year from the 97 total semifinalists, which include the 19 federal semifinalists and 78 state, county, local, and special government semifinalists.

The two NIOSH semifinalists are NORA and the NIOSH initiative for control of asphalt fumes during paving. Both initiatives involve landmark partnerships with outside organizations to prevent serious workplace injuries and illnesses.

NORA, which NIOSH developed with extensive public review and stakeholder involvement, provides a national blueprint and implementation plan for key research in occupational health and safety over the next decade. NORA will focus coordinated national research on 21 priority areas where the greatest benefits can be achieved in protecting workers and reducing the heavy economic costs imposed by workplace injuries and illnesses.

The asphalt paving initiative combined the teamwork of NIOSH, industry, and labor to develop research activities and new engineering control guidelines for large hot-mix asphalt paving equipment. The guidelines set practical performance criteria that will protect more than 300,000 workers across the U.S. from exposure to hazardous asphalt fumes.

“We are pleased to see this recognition for NORA and the asphalt initiative, which combine the creativity, team spirit, and hard work of many persons and organizations to advance the prevention of serious occupational injuries and illnesses,” said NIOSH Director Linda Rosenstock, M.D., M.P.H.

“These are new and exciting strategies for addressing problems that impose intolerable burdens on workers, businesses, and society,” Rosenstock added. “Moreover, they offer models for future activities inside and outside of NIOSH to protect workers from current and emerging hazards in this time of great change in the workforce and the workplace. We are excited at NIOSH about this new way of doing our work, and delighted that these two initiatives have been recognized as the true innovations we believed them to be.”

“The innovations program provides a showcase for outstanding efforts in the public sector,” said Alan Altshuler, director of the program at the Kennedy School. “Government is called upon to solve complex problems. Again, this year, we see fresh examples that demonstrate government’s capacity to address those challenges.”

Innovations in American Government is one of the most prestigious public-service awards in the country. Started in 1985, it is awarded on the basis of originality, effectiveness in addressing important problems, value of services to clients, and the potential for replication in other jurisdictions.

Past federal recipients of the award include the Food and Drug Administration for a new drug approval process that expedited the availability of effective drugs for HIV, cancer, and cystic fibrosis; the Federal Emergency Management Agency for a new system that provides for quicker prediction of natural disasters and faster emergency response; and the Department of Labor for an innovative partnership with manufacturers and retailers to eradicate sweatshops.

The 10 winning initiatives will be announced on Oct. 22, 1998. Each will receive a $100,000 award from the Ford Foundation. In addition, 15 finalists will each receive a $20,000 award.

For further information on the innovation awards program, contact the program at (617) 495-0557 or visit the program’s home page at

For further information on NORA, the national asphalt exposure control partnership, and other NIOSH research, call the toll-free NIOSH information number, 1-800-35-NIOSH (1-800-356-4674) or visit NIOSH on the World Wide Web at