input. The impact of the program’s research is evaluated in terms of its contributions to worker health and safety. The committee has assigned a score of 5 in its rating of relevance. This reflects the judgment of the committee that the activities related to most of the strategic goals are in the highest-priority subject areas and highly relevant to improvements in workplace protection and that the RDRP is engaged in transfer activities at a significant level. The committee has assigned a score of 4 in its rating of impact. This reflects the committee’s judgment that most subprograms within the RDRP have made major contributions to worker health and safety on the basis of end and well-accepted intermediate outcomes. If the committee had been given the option of providing non-integer scores, the score for program impact would have been between 4 and 5.
The committee provides recommendations intended to assist NIOSH in identifying opportunities to improve the relevance and impact of its research portfolio. These recommendations include an emphasis on the need to expand surveillance activities to detect exposure to those agents responsible for disease and to detect outbreaks of known diseases and identify new respiratory diseases affecting workers. The committee also recommends continued support of research on the development and improvement of methods to detect respiratory effects earlier and more accurately, continued research on the molecular mechanisms driving the pathogenesis of workplace respiratory diseases, the characterization of those agents (or attributes of those agents) responsible for adverse respiratory effects, evaluations of genetic variability that affects worker susceptibility, and research on improving respirator technology.
The committee’s recommendations are important, despite the high scores given for relevance and impact. The high scores reflect the guidance for ranking established by the framework committee and the committee’s recognition of the financial constraints the RDRP has operated under. The committee’s evaluation is of necessity retrospective. The recommendations are prospective, and are meant to help ensure that the RDRP continues to maintain its progress toward its goal of protecting workers from respiratory disease.
NIOSH was established by the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 to “conduct … research, experiments, and demonstrations relating to occupational safety and health” and to develop “innovative methods, techniques, and approaches for dealing with [those] problems” (Public Law 91-596, 84 STAT. 1590, 91st Congress, S.2193, December 29, 1970). As part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention within the Department of Health and Human Services, NIOSH is authorized to conduct research, training, and education related to worker health and safety; perform on-site investigations to evaluate hazards in the workplace;