November 11, 2021

NIOSH to Consider Establishing "Centers of Excellence" for Personal Protective Technology

NIOSH announced in the Federal Register on Nov. 2 that the agency is exploring whether to establish “centers of excellence” to support research and practice in the area of personal protective technology (PPT), including personal protective equipment. The Federal Register notice includes a request for information from NIOSH, which seeks public comment regarding the scope of these potential centers of excellence. NIOSH’s National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory has identified three areas of focus that future centers of excellence could address: researching and developing new technologies and approaches to PPT; evaluating factors that influence the adoption and use of PPT, including human factors and ergonomics; and innovating PPT design, manufacture, and maintenance. According to NIOSH, PPT centers of excellence could also conduct education and outreach activities as well as translate research findings and technologies into products and practices.

Interested parties have until Jan. 31, 2022, to submit feedback to NIOSH in response to its request for information. The agency hopes to receive input on the proposed focus areas as well as on questions concerning PPT research and practice needs for specific organizations, industry sectors and occupations, types of hazards, and anatomical categories such as dermal, vision, hearing, and respiratory protection. NIOSH also requests information on academic disciplines or research domains that can contribute to PPT research, new or emerging technologies that may increase PPT effectiveness, and additional needs related to PPT not addressed in the focus areas.

The establishment of PPT centers of excellence was recommended in 2008 by a committee convened by the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council of the National Academies to evaluate NIOSH’s intramural PPT program. The committee listed increased interdisciplinary expertise and improved ability to evaluate interventions among the benefits of its suggested centers-of-excellence approach.

More information is available in the Federal Register notice.