training grants called Education and Research Center Grants, whereas the other half supported single-discipline academic programs. Together, these two types of training grants totaled about $1.2 million in FY 1997. In addition, NIOSH supported occupational medicine training at about 28 medical schools and schools of public health. Injury was one of a host of covered topics.
NIOSH places high priority on educational materials for worker protection. As a result of the decade-long trend favoring occupational education over regulation (Dewees et al., 1996), NIOSH has come to rely on a variety of documents to disseminate findings and recommendations to the affected industries and the public. These include Alerts and Current Intelligence Bulletins for the general public, and occupational and public health professional communities. An Alert is a brochure for public consumption that describes a threat to worker safety and offers recommendations for prevention. It carries a one-page tear sheet that can be posted readily. NIOSH tailors its dissemination strategy to ensure that Alerts reach the most appropriate audience. For example, the tear page from an Alert on adolescent worker safety was sent to every secondary school principal in the United States.
Beyond publications, NIOSH supports a host of educational activities that include research literature evaluations and community-based projects. An example of the latter is the Young Worker Community-Based Health Education Project, launched in 1995 to promote adolescent worker safety. This community-based project was prompted by surveillance data revealing disturbing evidence of adolescent deaths and injuries in the workplace, mostly in the construction, farm equipment, and food service industries (NIOSH, 1995). Through this project, cooperative agreements were awarded for three community-based health education projects to develop and test interventions that increase community awareness of adolescent worker safety in order to change the knowledge, attitudes, and behavior of organizations delivering services to teens.
The committee applauds NIOSH in its paradigmatic approach to research priority setting through NORA. The contemporary scientific community values planning as a tool for setting broad priorities and integrating diverse research programs (NIH, 1994a; IOM, 1998). The key is to set priorities in a way that does not dictate individual research projects, that encourages innovation, and that ensures stakeholder investment in the outcome.
NORA promulgates national priorities for occupational safety and health research for both the public and private sectors (Rosenstock et al., 1998). One