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NIOSH Hosts Industry, Labor, Other Partners to Review Successes, New Opportunities for Workplace Health

NIOSH Update:

Date: May 14, 1999
Contact: Fred Blosser, NIOSH (202) 260-8519

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) today hosted more than 200 leaders from industry, labor, government, public health, and academia at a national symposium in Washington, D.C., on occupational safety and health research. NIOSH, a part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the nation’s leader in research to prevent occupational injury, illness, and death, held this meeting to review current accomplishments under the National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) and discuss opportunities for further collaborations.

NORA provides a national blueprint for research in 21 priority areas that will do the most to prevent injury, illness, and death in the workplace over the coming decade. NORA was established by NIOSH in 1996 with input and review from more than 500 individuals and organizations.

Since the creation of NORA, teams representing NIOSH and numerous partner organizations have worked to implement NORA in public- and private-sector planning for occupational safety and health research, reflecting support for NIOSH’s progress in implementing NORA and broadening occupational safety and health research partnerships.

At today’s symposium, held at the National Academy of Sciences, NIOSH also presented the first NORA Partnership Award for Worker Health and Safety to honor a diverse industry, labor, and government team that developed and implemented a historic NORA-related project. Under this project, close collaboration by the participants resulted in significant reductions in worker exposure to asphalt fumes in the highway paving industry.

“Dedication and teamwork are essential to meeting great challenges,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Donna E. Shalala, who opened today’s symposium. “NORA provides an innovative and now proven vehicle for combining the energy and expertise of many diverse organizations and agencies to reduce serious and costly occupational injuries and illnesses in today’s changing workplace.”

Presentations at today’s symposium by prominent industry, labor, and government officials addressed:

  • The key role of partnerships in protecting worker safety and health, featuring Robert Georgine, President of the Building and Construction Trades Department, AFL-CIO; Kenneth Kizer, M.D., M.P.H., Undersecretary for Health, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs; and Lawrence Burns, Ph.D., Vice President for Research, Development, and Planning, General Motors Corporation.
  • Use of NORA as a model for developing research agendas, featuring Antonio Moccaldi, M.D., Director, Istituto Superiore Per La Prevenzione e La S Curezza Del Lavoro (NIOSH’s Italian counterpart), and David Wegman, M.D., Chair, Department of Work Environment, University of Massachusetts at Lowell.
  • The power of partnerships as demonstrated in two current research areas. A partnership in the automobile manufacturing industry was described by Henry B. Lick, Ph.D., Manager, Industrial Hygiene Department, Ford Motor Company; Frank Mirer, Ph.D., Director of Health and Safety, United Auto Workers; and Dennis O’Brien, Ph.D., Director, Division of Physical Sciences and Engineering, NIOSH. Labor and management partnerships in mining were discussed by Joseph A. Main, Administrator, Department of Occupational Health and Safety, United Mine Workers of America, and Joseph A. Lamonica, Vice President, Health, Safety, and Training, Bituminous Coal Operators Association, Inc. The panels were moderated by William Bunn, M.D., J.D., M.P.H., Medical Director, Health Management and Safety, NAVISTAR.
  • Successes and challenges in NORA implementation as experienced in three NORA research areas: traumatic injury, special populations at risk, and musculoskeletal disorders. Presentations were made by NIOSH team leaders in those research areas: Nancy Stout, Ed.D., Director, NIOSH Division of Safety Research; Sherry Baron, M.D., Medical Officer, NIOSH Division of Surveillance, Hazard Evaluations, and Field Studies; and Larry Fine, M.D., Dr.P.H., Director, NIOSH Division of Surveillance, Hazard Evaluations, and Field Studies. The panel was moderated by Gwendolyn Keita, Ph.D., Public Interest Directorate and Director, Women’s Program Office, American Psychological Association.

The first NORA Partnership Award for Worker Health and Safety was presented at the symposium to the heads of eight organizations and agencies that joined in a diverse partnership to reduce workers’ exposure to asphalt fumes during highway paving. The partners in the effort, in addition to NIOSH, were the National Asphalt Pavement Association, the Federal Highway Administration, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the International Union of Operating Engineers, the Laborers’ Health and Safety Fund of North America, the Laborers’ International Union of North America, and the Asphalt Institute. The unique collaboration resulted in development of innovative engineering controls that reduce worker exposure to asphalt fumes from highway paving equipment by about 80 percent, and in an unprecedented industry-wide, voluntary agreement to include this technology on all new highway pavers.

The award recognizes outstanding NORA partnership activities that lead to improved worker health and safety. To be eligible for the award, NORA partnership activities must include collaborative research in at least one NORA priority area that results in the development of interventions that reduce hazardous exposures or adverse outcomes. Partners should represent a broad and diverse spectrum of organizations and individuals, such as manufacturers, end-users, labor, the public health community, academia, and government.

The asphalt paving partnership was also recognized in 1998 as a finalist for the Innovations in American Government Award, presented by the Ford Foundation and the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

“As today’s presentations demonstrate, NORA has already stimulated new attention to occupational safety and health research,” said NIOSH Director Linda Rosenstock, M.D., M.P.H. “Building on these successes to date, we hope that today’s symposium generates additional enthusiasm for the challenging work that lies ahead.”

For additional information on NORA and on NIOSH research, contact the toll-free NIOSH information number, 1-800-35-NIOSH (1-800-356-4674) or visit NIOSH on the World Wide Web at