On October 1, the National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) enters its third decade. Unveiled in 1996, NORA is a partnership program to stimulate innovative research and improved workplace practices. Through NORA, diverse parties come together to create a research framework for the nation, including stakeholders from universities, large and small businesses, professional societies, government agencies, and worker organizations. NIOSH is proud to continue its role as steward of NORA.

The questions guiding the third decade are two-fold: What research should be done in 2020 and beyond? Can an efficient and effective structure be found to identify and integrate research priorities? To answer these questions, NORA will move forward with an enhanced structure and a continued focus on a national research agenda.

In the third decade, the 10 sectors formed for the second decade will continue to prioritize occupational safety and health research by major areas of the U.S. economy. These areas are:

  1. Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing
  2. Construction
  3. Healthcare and Social Assistance
  4. Manufacturing
  5. Mining
  6. Oil and Gas Extraction
  7. Services
  8. Public Safety
  9. Transportation, Warehousing and Utilities
  10. Wholesale and Retail Trade

More information about the industries included in each sector is available here.

NORA will have an enhanced structure in the third decade. In addition to the 10 sectors, there will be 7 cross-sectors organized according to the major health and safety issues affecting the U.S. working population. These include:

  • Cancer, Reproductive, Cardiovascular and Other Chronic Disease Prevention
  • Hearing Loss Prevention
  • Immune, Infectious, and Dermal Disease Prevention
  • Musculoskeletal Health
  • Respiratory Health
  • Traumatic Injury Prevention
  • Healthy Work Design and Well-being

The sector and cross-sector structures will bring complementary viewpoints to occupational safety and health problems. The sector approach allows us to bring specialized knowledge and experience to bear on concerns that are unique to, that disproportionately affect, or are best solved within the organizational structures of specific industries. The cross-sector focus offers flexibility to address commonalities in hazards that cut across industries.

The work of NORA will continue to be carried out by councils, one for each sector and cross-sector. Members will represent the diverse mix of NIOSH stakeholders, including business, labor, government, and academia. Meetings are held both virtually and in person, creating a national venue for individuals and organizations with common interests in occupational safety and health to come together. Sector councils will be carried forward into the third decade of NORA. Current sector council members are welcome to continue their participation and new members are also welcome. Councils for the new health and safety cross-sectors are forming now. Meetings for the third decade will begin in the fall/winter of 2016, so contact the NORA Coordinator now if you are interested in participating.

Councils are charged with starting the third decade by identifying broad strategic research objectives for the nation and then spending the remainder of the decade working to address those issues through information exchange, collaboration, and enhanced dissemination and implementation of solutions that work. Members benefit by hearing about cutting-edge research findings, learning about evidence-based ways to improve safety and health efforts in their organization, and forming new partnerships. In turn, members share their knowledge and experiences with others and reciprocate partnerships.

For over two decades, NORA has been a successful framework for occupational safety and health. We look forward to continued partnerships to improve workers’ health and well-being. If you’d like to learn more about the third decade of NORA, visit the NORA website. If you’d like to participate in a sector or cross-sector council, contact the NORA coordinator.