220243 History of Occupational Safety and Health: What Led to the Creation of NIOSH?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Susan Afanuh, MA , Document Development Branch, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Cincinnati, OH
The establishment of NIOSH resulted from trends and events that began in the early 1900s. Industrialization led to occupational illnesses, surveillance, epidemiological studies, workplace inspections, and even legislation and compensation. Academic programs included industrial hygiene, and industries added physicians to their staff. However, national safety codes and enforcement power were lacking, because there was no convincing link between exposures and illnesses. In the 1950s, concern developed over air and water pollution and the effects of radiation. Environmental lobbies became more active and demanded protective equipment in the workplace. More research was funded, and evidence showed the connection between workplace exposures and illnesses. Several bills mandating national workplace safety codes failed. But in the 1960s, the Public Health Service set goals for a national program, which was a model for the Occupational Safety and Health Act. Lyndon Johnson affirmed his commitment to a national occupational safety plan, with the Department of Labor (DOL) in charge of enforcement and the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare in charge of research. Nixon signed the bill that established OSHA and NIOSH. NIOSH organized its divisions around functions, such as criteria documents and field studies. As one of NIOSH's first acts, the toxic substances list was established to guide research priorities. Although the focus of NIOSH has evolved, , NIOSH is still the leading agency in its core activities of conducting field studies, establishing criteria for recommended standards, and guiding research priorities.

Learning Areas:
Occupational health and safety

Learning Objectives:
Explain the trends and events of the 20th century that led to the establishment of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I spent 3 years researching the history of occupational safety and health and have worked at NIOSH for 19 years.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.