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Education and Research Centers for Occupational Safety and Health Woman looking into microscope

Education and Research Center History

The Beginnings

Men wearing protective gearIn the early 1970s, the federal government passed the "Occupational Safety and Health Act," which addressed workplace health and safety concerns that had been emerging in the US for decades.

The effort served to "protect our most precious resources--human beings--to assure so far as possible every working man and woman in the nation safe and healthful working conditions, and to preserve our human resources."

This law also established new agency, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), which was set up as a prevention-oriented research institute responsible for identifying occupational hazards, conducting research and field studies, and conveying the results to OSHA, the Mine Safety Health Administration, other federal agencies, and professionals working in the field. A second objective was to provide training programs based on the results of research and study for OH&S professionals.

The Mid-1970s

Awareness of occupational hazards and interest in worker protection had increased in the public and private sectors. Through needs assessments conducted at NIOSH, it was apparent there was a shortage of qualified industrial health and safety specialists to meet the challenge of worker health and safety. In response to federal goals, and in an effort to alleviate manpower shortages, NIOSH established 12 Centers of Learning at selected Universities across the country.

These Educational Resource Centers (ERCs)--now called Education and Research Centers to better reflect their dual roles--were established to assist the selected institutions to develop and/or expand existing occupational health and safety training programs and to provide continuing education courses for specialists currently practicing in the field.


The Education and Research Centers provide a variety of continuing education opportunities for occupational health and safety professionals across a wide range of disciplines. On this site you can link directly to any of our 18 University-based NIOSH ERCs and find courses, seminars workshops, and events happening across the country. Each ERC has a strong connection to local, regional and national communities of professionals and provide needs based, worker focused training.