OSHA is not the only federal agency concerned with workplace safety. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health is a government agency that like OSHA, was created under the OSH Act of 1970. Both agencies work towards creating safer and healthier workers. Unlike OSHA though, NIOSH does not have the authority to issue or enforce safety and health and standards. Additionally, NIOSH and OSHA do not fall under the same department. While OSHA operates within the Department of Labor, NIOSH is part of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
So, what does NIOSH do? Simply put, NIOSH is a research agency focused on studying worker safety and health and empowering both employers and employees to create safe workplaces. While NIOSH does not issue or enforce occupational and industrial safety standards, they conduct research, gather information, provide education and training, and develop recommendations for preventing work-related injury and illness.
NIOSH conducts research on both new and existing safety and health problems and does so through a few different avenues. First, NIOSH has the authority to investigate workplaces on-site through Health Hazard Evaluations in order to assess the toxicity of the materials being used. NIOSH also oversees a number of research programs that are focused on specific industries, hazards, or other occupational safety topic. Some programs include the Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing Program, the Engineering Controls Program, the Respiratory Health Program, and the Traumatic Injury Prevention Program. Finally, NIOSH often funds research through grants or contracts to be carried out by other agencies and organizations.
In addition to recommending standards to OSHA, NIOSH has the authority to develop recommendations for the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA). Like their work with OSHA, NIOSH can develop recommendations for mine health standards while also having the authority to administer medical surveillance programs and conduct on-site investigations.