Marie H. Sweeney, PhD, NIOSH; Toni Alterman, PhD, NIOSH, Kerry Souza, ScD, NIOSH

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Surveillance NORA Cross-Sector Program’s main objectives are to: 1) Track diseases, injuries, and workplace exposures for further study; 2) Identify new and emerging problems in the workplace; 3) Provide evidence used to direct intervention and prevention activities; and 4) Monitor the overall impact of occupational health research. To accomplish these goals, NIOSH partners with local and state health departments, federal agencies, universities, public health practitioners and private industry This poster describes how the program and its partners worked together to conduct occupational health, safety, and exposure surveillance during a public health emergency.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Surveillance Program is a Core and Specialty Program and is foundational to NIOSH. Our surveillance activities are conducted and managed within several of our divisions and office locations: Emergency Preparedness and Response Office (EPRO), Division of Safety Research (DSR), Division of Field Studies and Engineering (DFSE), Office of Mine Safety and Health Research (OMSHR), National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory (NPPTL), Respiratory Health Division (RHD), Western States Division and Office of Extramural Programs (OEP). We also collaborate with other centers within CDC and HHS to foster a better understanding of how work contributes to health status, including both physical and mental health.

Federal, state, and private industry partners regularly collect and provide us with the data that NIOSH uses to conduct surveillance studies. These data are unique because they provide current information about injuries and illnesses occurring among workers in different jobs and industries. With these data, we are able to monitor recent trends in work-related injuries, illnesses, hazards, deaths, and exposures. This poster describes how the program and its partners worked together to conduct occupational health, safety, and exposure surveillance during a public health emergency. Unlike many developed countries, the United States lacks a comprehensive, systematic approach to assessing the mental and physical health of its workforce. Thus, to assess, the health of workers in the US, researchers in the NIOSH Surveillance Program, engage many partners and utilize data from the many extant surveillance systems and data collection networks.

In a public health emergency, including natural or manmade disasters, or a pandemic, workers in many occupations and industries are at the forefront responding to these events. It is important to identify the worker’s occupation and industry so that intervention and preventive measures can be taken quickly to reduce exposure and disease. The NIOSH Surveillance Program examined different platforms for the collection of industry and occupation information and worked to incorporate the collection of this information in health systems and public health data collection efforts. Some of the work conducted by the Program included manuscripts and many MMWR publications, guidance documents, web pages, blogs, incident management slides, presentations, consultations, and analytic assistance. Highlights from these efforts will be presented on the poster.

The Surveillance Program seeks to expand the view that where you work matters and to work with others to recognize the value of collecting industry and occupation during the collection of all health data. The program wants to understand the barriers to collecting industry and occupation data and to improve its collection. By collecting this data, occupational health researchers and practitioners can work together to identify high risk situations, risky exposures, and appropriate interventions. Attendees of the conference will be encouraged to contact Surveillance Program staff to discuss these issues further and find opportunities to collaborate.

The NIOSH Surveillance Program works through partnerships at many levels and continues to look for opportunities to increase and improve the collection of occupation and industry.

Tags: Applicable to all occupations/industries, COVID-19, Emerging Issues, Government / National Policies and International Collaborations, National and International Initiatives; Laws; Regulations; Policies; and Collaborations; Global Standards, Surveillance