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Statement on Workers Memorial Day 2005 by Dr. John Howard, NIOSH Director

April 28, 2005
NIOSH Update:

Contact: Fred Blosser (202) 401-3749

The observance of Workers Memorial Day is a powerful reminder that job-related deaths, injuries, and illnesses are national tragedies with serious ramifications for individuals, families, and society. Going to work should not result in the loss of life or well-being.

This day of remembrance also compels us to look ahead and find effective ways to prevent future tragedies. Smart, vigorous research is an essential tool in that mission. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is dedicated to working with diverse partners to design and carry out such research.

Last year, with our partners, we launched the Steps to a Healthier U.S. Workforce initiative to stimulate the integration of workplace health protection and work-based health promotion. These disciplines have a common goal of optimizing health for all working people. For too long, though, they have been separated professionally and organizationally. This year, having laid the foundations of the initiative, we look forward to seeing first results from an ambitious new funding effort.

Moving research to practice (r2p) is another of our priorities. From the outset of a research project, we are committed to having an end-use clearly in mind, and a strategy for reaching that end. Already, r2p has given us new tools to prevent disabling back injuries, to identify toxic hazards more quickly, and to protect emergency responders, among other examples. Many more innovations are on their way to real-life application.

And this year, our partners and we assess the accomplishments that have occurred under the National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA), as we prepare to launch the next phase of NORA on its tenth anniversary in 2006. NORA has proven to be a dynamic engine for driving new research to prevent job-related injuries and illnesses.

We hope that you will join us in advancing research to achieve safer, healthier, and more prepared workplaces as we mark Workers Memorial Day 2005 as a day of honor, mourning, and rededication.