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The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)


The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is the U.S. federal agency that conducts research and makes recommendations to prevent worker injury and illness. NIOSH has more than 1,200 employees from a diverse set of fields including epidemiology, medicine, nursing, industrial hygiene, safety, psychology, chemistry, statistics, economics and many branches of engineering.

Join the NASA Safety Center for our next event as we take a look at the depth and breadth of resources available through NIOSH. Guest speakers from NIOSH - Steve Wurzelbacher, director of the Center for Workers' Compensation Studies, Amanda Harney, health communication specialist, and Ted Scharf, research psychologist - will discuss 

  • NIOSH and what it does
  • Current research
  • History with NASA
  • Past support of US agencies
  • How best to utilize NIOSH's wealth of experience and information

Steve Wurzelbacher

Steve Wurzelbacher is the director of the Center for Workers’ Compensation Studies at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. In this role, he coordinates workers’ compensation trending analyses and safety and health intervention effectiveness studies with public and private industry research partners.

Wurzelbacher has worked for over 15 years in the safety and health field, as both a researcher and as a loss control practitioner for a workers' compensation insurance carrier. He has a Ph.D. in occupational safety and ergonomics from the University of Cincinnati and is a certified professional ergonomist.

Amanda Harney

Amanda M.G. Harney is a lead communication specialist with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) in the Office of the Director. She has been heavily involved in the health communication activities of NIOSH, including conducting health communication research, intervention activities and evaluations; developing communication products; providing assistance, guidance and consultation to managers and researchers; and developing strategies for effectively transferring research into workplace practice.

In 2010, Harney began managing the NIOSH Research to Practice Program— its mission is to drive the successful transfer of NIOSH-generated knowledge, interventions and technologies to impact worker safety and health through relevant and evidence-based research.

Harney received a Bachelor of Arts in communications as well as a Master of public health in Environmental and Occupational Health from Saint Louis University. She has worked at NIOSH in the area of health communications since 2000.

NIOSH was created by the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 as the federal agency that conducts research and makes recommendations for preventing work-related injuries, illnesses and deaths. Organizationally, it is part of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Ted Scharf

Ted Scharf, Ph.D., is a Research Psychologist at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

Scharf conducts research, interventions and training evaluations focusing on hazardous work environments in the construction and agriculture industries and in emergency response. He has been fortunate to work with NIOSH colleagues in the mining industry as well. The central focus of his work is the dual-attention demand (for both productivity and safety) that is required of workers in constantly changing, hazardous work environments. Recent focus groups and curriculum development with ironworkers have taken place in a participatory action-research format. This approach emphasizes “practice-to-research,” as advocated by the NIOSH r2p program. His most recent study is a training evaluation in hazard recognition with ironworker apprentices. The hazard recognition curriculum has been disseminated to more than 50 ironworker locals throughout North America during two summer training programs for ironworker instructors. The curriculum is anticipated to be presented again in the 2014 summer training program.

Scharf leads the recently established Safety Climate and Culture Working Group under the Work Organization and Stress -Related Disorders cross-sector program within the NIOSH program portfolio. He also leads an intervention evaluation competition for the bi-annual Work, Stress and Health Conference, co-sponsored by the American Psychological Association, NIOSH and the Society for Occupational Health Psychology.

He received his Ph.D. in 1995 from the School of Social Ecology, University of California, Irvine, with an emphasis in environmental psychology and quasi-experimental research methodology.

NIOSH was created by the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, the same legislation that initiated the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA was placed in the Department of Labor and regulates occupational safety and health throughout the United States. NIOSH was placed in the Department of Health and Human Services (formerly Health, Education and Welfare) and is charged with conducting research and making recommendations regarding occupational safety and health issues (both unregulated and regulated topics).

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)


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