NIOSH logo and tagline

NIOSH Thanks Ag Review Panel & Chair for Report, Notes High Grade on Relevance in Priority Areas


July 5, 2012
NIOSH Update:

Contact: Fred Blosser, (202) 245-0645

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) today thanked an expert panel and their chair for their recent review of NIOSH’s research program to prevent work-related injuries, illnesses, and deaths in the Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing Sector.

The review panel, which was convened and chaired by Dr. Paul D. Gunderson, director of the Dakota Precision Agriculture Center and former director of the National Farm Medicine Center, evaluated the current status of the Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing (AgFF) Sector Program, which NIOSH conducts under partnerships with diverse stakeholders under the National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA). The review cited progress achieved by the program since an earlier review in 2007.

Dr. Gunderson’s report from the new review was submitted to NIOSH on June 26 and is available at

The 2007 review was conducted by a similar panel of experts, also chaired by Dr. Gunderson, under the Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources of the National Research Council and the Institute of Medicine. The new review examined the relevance and the impact of the NIOSH Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing Sector Program on a 1-5 numerical scale, with 5 the highest rating. Dr. Gunderson’s report found progress since the 2007 review, and accordingly awarded higher scores for relevance and impact.

“The ensuing five years have seen implementation of the NORA [initiative] that was in place, but not yet fully deployed at the time of the initial review, internal adjustments within NIOSH that placed the AgFF Program under synergistic leadership, and significant change in both national public policy and scale of worksite adjustments,” Dr. Gunderson said in a cover letter to the report.

“NIOSH thanks Dr. Gunderson and the review panel for their thoughtful evaluation of the Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing Sector Program, and we will give close attention to the findings and recommendations in the report,” said NIOSH Director John Howard, M.D. “Such review is essential for ensuring that we continue to conduct strategic, results-driven research to protect the safety and health of those who work in this fundamental American industry sector.”

The report awarded a score of 5 to the program’s relevance in meeting the needs of the Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing Sector, an increase over a score of 4 in the 2007 review. “Research has been in very high priority areas and is highly relevant to improvements in workplace [safety and health] protection,” the report stated. The report also noted that NIOSH has engaged in activities to move its research into actual safety and health practice “on a very significant level.” Further, it cited “considerable progress” since 2007 in achieving intermediate outcomes, such as strengthening the engagement of stakeholder groups in the agricultural community, and developing strategic goals for injury and illness surveillance, research, education, and other critical needs.

The impact of the research program was rated 4 out of a possible score of 5, an increase over a score of 3 in the 2007 review. “Clearly much notable progress has occurred” in the program since the earlier review, the report said. The report pointed to advancements since 2007 in the “significant lowering of child death rates due to agricultural worksite risk,” diffusion of new technologies to prevent fatal tractor rollovers, and adoption of personal flotation devices and other protective measures in the commercial fishing industry.

“More progress needs to occur within the sector,” but such progress “awaits maturity” of current initiatives in the research program, and further translation of research into practice across worksites in the sector, and across populations at risk, the report said.

The Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing Sector has the highest fatality rate of any U.S. industry sector. Under the NORA program, NIOSH has worked closely with industry organizations, farmers, agricultural workers and their representatives, state and federal agencies, educators, community groups, and other safety and health professionals to identify risk factors in the industry, to develop effective preventive measures, and to move those results into practice. More information on the Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing Sector Program can be found at, and more information about NIOSH research at