Occupational Safety and Health Workgroup Objectives (7)
About the Workgroup
Approach and Rationale
More than 160 million people participate in the U.S. labor force,1 and their work has an intrinsic connection to their safety and health. Decades of public health surveillance and research have demonstrated that work-related injuries have both a human and economic impact on employers, workers, and communities. Workplace settings vary widely in terms of size, sector, design, location, processes, culture, and resources. In addition, workers themselves may have different ages, genders, training and education levels, cultural backgrounds, health practices, and levels of access to preventive health care. This translates to great diversity in the safety and health risks for each industry sector and the need for tailored interventions.
The OSH objectives aim to prevent illness, injury, and disease due to working conditions. All objectives, core and developmental, align with NIOSH’s strategic plan and are addressed through the National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA).2 NORA is a program established by NIOSH that works with partners from academia, industry, labor, and government to stimulate research and improve workplace practices. The OSH Healthy People 2020 objectives were reduced for Healthy People 2030 by cutting sub-objectives and considering the data source and scope of remaining objectives. The 6 core objectives selected by the OSH Workgroup aim to reduce workplace safety and health issues like deaths from injuries, injuries resulting in missed work days, deaths from pneumoconiosis, assaults, skin diseases, and hearing loss. The developmental objective selected by the OSH Workgroup focuses on the reduction of high blood lead levels in adults exposed at work.
Understanding Occupational Safety and Health
Work is one of the most important determinants of a person’s health. However, addressing occupational safety and health poses numerous challenges.
- The workforce, like the U.S. population at large, is becoming increasingly diverse — and these demographic changes result in new safety and health issues. Some workers are more likely to have increased risks of work-related diseases and injuries — for example, racial/ethnic minorities, recent immigrants, younger and older workers, workers with genetic susceptibility, and workers with disabilities.
- Workplaces are rapidly evolving as jobs in the current economy continue to shift from manufacturing to services.
- Major changes are also happening in the way work is organized. Longer hours, compressed work weeks, shift work, reduced job security, and part-time and temporary work are realities of the modern workplace. These changes increasingly affect the health and lives of workers.
- New chemicals, materials, processes, and equipment are being developed at an ever-accelerating pace. This also poses emerging risks to occupational health.