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20th Anniversary of NIOSH Construction Research Program Commemorated in Journal

NIOSH Update:

Contact: Fred Blosser, (202) 245-0645Call Button
July 1, 2010

A special issue of the Journal of Safety Research, released today, commemorates the 20th anniversary of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s (NIOSH) construction research program and features a selection of NIOSH-sponsored research. NIOSH, CPWR—The Center for Construction Research and Training, the Construction Safety Council and The National Safety Council (NSC) teamed to put together the 14-article special edition.  Matt Gillen (NIOSH), Janie Gittleman (CPWR), and Mei-Li Lin (NSC) were co-editors.

In the introduction to the special issue, NIOSH Director John Howard, M.D., and his co-authors outline the history of the NIOSH construction research program starting with its initial Congressional mandate in 1990.  The article highlights major accomplishments over the past twenty years, including the establishment of the National Construction Center (currently CPWR), the Construction Economics Research Network, and the National Occupational Research Agenda, demonstrating how NIOSH’s concentrated efforts and investments in research, partnership, and intervention have catalyzed an evidence-based approach to occupational safety and health in construction.

Since 1990, great strides have been made in improving construction safety, and fatality rates have declined in high-hazard occupations such as iron work and electrical power installation. “The United States has matured from a country with virtually no construction safety and health effort to a world leader in the field,” Dr. Howard and his co-authors note.  The co-authors are Pete Stafford, CPWR; Christine Branche, Ph.D., NIOSH; Tom Broderick, Construction Safety Council; and Janet Froetscher, National Safety Council.

The articles in the special issue explore training, injury prevention, falls, and ways to impact construction safety and health.  A case study describes lessons learned in 2008 on the largest privately-owned, commercial construction project in U.S. history, the CityCenter project in Las Vegas, Nevada. Eight worker deaths over the course of eighteen months prompted a Pulitzer Prize-winning series of news stories and a safety needs assessment that provided management with four specific recommendations. Special issue co-editors Matt Gillen and Janie Gittleman conclude with a discussion of emerging issues and challenges to construction safety and health.

The issue can be accessed at

NIOSH is the federal agency that conducts research and makes recommendations for preventing work-related injuries and illnesses. It was created under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 and is part of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. More information about NIOSH’s construction research program can be found at