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NIOSH Research Agenda Identifies 9 Critical COVID-19 Topics

  • Published
  • 8 April 2021
  • Category
  • News

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has published a COVID-19 Research Agenda as part of its Disaster Science Responder Research Program.

The agenda is a high-level framework for planning and prioritizing the agency’s pandemic-related research. It corresponds with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Science Agenda for COVID-19. The agenda identifies nine critical topic areas:

  1. Economics: Identify cost-effective prevention, mitigation and support strategies to reduce economic burdens for employers, employees and their family members, and society in general.
  2. Engineering controls: Study ways to eliminate and reduce exposure risk by adding or applying engineering and technology solutions.
  3. Epidemiology/surveillance: Track and characterize SARS-CoV-2 infection in U.S. workers by industry type and occupational groups, including essential workers, and use the data to develop preventive interventions.
  4. Mental health: Conduct research aimed at identifying employees at highest risk for developing pandemic-related anxiety disorders, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms and substance use disorders.
  5. Occupational environmental/exposure assessment: Measuring infectivity of the virus in aerosols and on surfaces and determining the viral concentration for comparison to an infectious dose (once known) is considered necessary to assess risk and make recommendations.
  6. Occupational violence: COVID-19-related occupational violence assessments would be used to track violence patterns, identify contributing factors and develop prevention strategies.
  7. Personal protective equipment (PPE): Research on the design, development, testing, evaluation and use of PPE is needed to protect workers with exposure risk, especially first responders and health care personnel.
  8. Transmission/occupational health: A multidisciplinary approach is recommended to better understand transmission in work settings and capture findings from laboratory and clinical research, demonstration projects, epidemiological investigations and field studies, and economic evaluations to inform occupational health interventions.
  9. Zoonosis: More research is needed to investigate animal species that are susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 infection and whether there may be a potential zoonotic workplace risk to employees who interact with animals.

The research agenda describes specific priority goals for each topic.

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