March 23, 2023

NIOSH Releases Strategic Plan for American Indian and Native Alaskan Worker Safety and Health

A new strategic plan available on the NIOSH website identifies research priorities and activities intended to prevent injuries, illnesses, and fatalities among workers in the American Indian and Native Alaskan (AI/AN) communities. According to NIOSH, little is known about the occupational health and safety of these workers, who comprise nearly 2 percent of the total United States workforce. The agency specifies that the plan is a starting point for collaborations with AI/AN tribes.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the highest numbers of AI/AN workers are employed in office and administrative support, sales, management, transportation and material moving, and food preparation and serving. From 2012 through 2021, an average of 36 AI/AN workers were killed on the job each year, but given the limited data available on these communities, official statistics likely undercount injuries, illnesses, and fatalities, NIOSH says.

The plan identifies objectives in four areas: research, practice, policy, and capacity building. The seven research objectives are intended to address gaps in data about AI/AN workers—for example, by identifying their occupational health and safety risks, characterizing the AI/NA workforce, and identifying factors that contribute to their occupational injuries, illnesses, and fatalities. The eight practice objectives focus on improving health and safety practices by identifying topics for guidance materials and reviewing existing materials. The policy objectives call for assessing existing OHS laws that affect tribal communities, providing assistance to tribal leaders for developing their own laws, and other outcomes. The capacity building objectives focus on improving the ability of tribes to promote OHS in their communities through professional development, train the trainer programs, and other educational outreach.

Review the plan on the NIOSH website.