NIOSH Reorganizes Respiratory, Mining Divisions
NIOSH announced the reorganization of its respiratory and mining divisions at the end of October. The changes affect the Division of Respiratory Disease Studies (DRDS) and the NIOSH Mine Safety and Health Research Program. Under the reorganization, DRDS has been renamed the NIOSH Respiratory Health Division (RHD). RHD will continue the DRDS mission of protecting workers from diseases caused by respiratory hazards, but the reorganization plans call for the division to expand its efforts to develop and advance workplace-based interventions to improve respiratory health. DRDS was established in 1976 and contributed to the recognition of hazards such as Libby vermiculite, chemicals used in leather sprays, natural rubber latex, nylon flock, flavoring chemicals, and indium tin oxide. The division also helped increase the understanding of risk factors for respiratory disease, including exposure-response relationships for some workplace hazards. “The RHD name reflects our desire at NIOSH to do more than just prevent disease,” said NIOSH Director Dr. John Howard. “We want to optimize health, enabling the workers we serve to enjoy their lives to the fullest.” The reorganization also restores two mining research divisions: the Pittsburgh Mining Research Division and the Spokane Mining Research Division. According to NIOSH, recent reports indicate that mine workers have the lowest quality-adjusted life expectancy of workers employed in the original industry sectors, which include construction; manufacturing; agriculture, forestry, and fishing; and more. “The two mining division reorganizations reaffirm and deepen our commitment to work with mining stakeholders to address occupational safety and health issues throughout the U.S., whether regional or national in scope,” Howard said. To learn more, see NIOSH’s press release.