(approximately 9 percent of the institute’s occupational safety and health [OSH] budget) that comprises a network of 15 regional Education and Research Centers (ERCs) located at leading universities in 14 states and approximately 40 individual training project grants in 25 states and Puerto Rico. Every year, approximately 500 students graduate from NIOSH-supported programs with backgrounds in occupational medicine, occupational health nursing, industrial hygiene, and safety. Many current leaders and OSH advocates have received training from NIOSH-funded programs. According to a 1996 report by the inspector general of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (Office of Inspector General, 1996), about 90 percent of ERC graduates pursue careers in OSH in private industry, labor, government agencies, medicine, and academia.
The work environment has changed since the OSHAct was passed more than 30 years ago. Work injuries and illnesses that were unrecognized at that time now contribute greatly to the present OSH burden. New information about ergonomics and the association between work organization and job stress mean that there is a newly recognized need for personnel qualified in carrying out interventions that will prevent adverse health outcomes related to these factors. Worker demographics are changing, with more women, minorities, and people with disabilities being in the workforce. Older workers (those over 50 years of age) and