January 6, 2022

NIOSH Releases Future of Work Initiative Research Agenda

NIOSH has published an agenda (PDF) outlining the research priorities of its Future of Work Initiative, a program introduced in 2019 to address occupational health and safety (OHS) research needs related to ongoing and emerging changes in work, the workplace, and the workforce. According to NIOSH’s website, the initiative’s vision is “to prepare the occupational safety and health ecosystem for a safer, healthier, and more productive future.” In support of this vision, the new Future of Work Initiative Research Agenda describes an organized approach for considering safety and health issues affecting workers in the near future, with applications in OHS practice, policy, and capacity-building.

The agenda lists nine research-oriented goals that pertain to the future of the workplace, work, and the workforce:

  • improve worker safety, health, and well-being outcomes through healthier organizational design policies, programs, and practices
  • determine and address worker issues related to automation, technological job displacement, and occupational polarization
  • identify and address the safety, health, and well-being risks for workers in different work arrangements
  • minimize worker risks and maximize benefits associated with artificial intelligence application
  • mitigate worker safety and health challenges and leverage opportunities associated with robotics
  • evaluate the impact of innovative and emerging technologies on worker well-being
  • identify, examine, and reduce the inequitable distribution of work-related risks and benefits due to demographic characteristics
  • reduce adverse worker safety, health, and well-being effects resulting from economic insecurity
  • assess continued education, training, and skill-building needs and approaches to improve OHS outcomes

The new research agenda provides background information for and summarizes objectives within each of these goals.

Developed with the input of the entire NIOSH research community, the agenda is intended to assist agency scientists in identifying and prioritizing research output under NIOSH’s current strategic plan. It also informs the wider safety and health community of the agency’s research efforts related to the future of work. NIOSH encourages OHS professionals and other allied or interested groups within academia, government, industry, organized labor, and elsewhere to help address the needs identified within the agenda.

Additional information on the Future of Work Initiative Research Agenda, including a link to download the agenda as a free PDF, can be found on NIOSH’s website.