The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health is recognizing 50 years of research in Morgantown.
“The Public Health Service rented space at WVU and it was occupied by Public Health Services employees who did research especially in respiratory diseases in coal miners,” said Dr. David Weissman, Director of NIOSH’s Respiratory Health Division.
NIOSH held a symposium on Thursday to discuss respiratory disease research and other occupational health issues in West Virginia such as respiratory diseases in coal miners. Presentations also discusses how to apply science to policy to protect workers from respiratory diseases.
“That a lot is going on,” Dr. Weissman said. “A lot has been accomplished over the last 50 years. There’s still more to do, but there are still so many places where we can make improvements and make people healthier so they can have long and productive careers.”
The event also marked 25 years of Occupational Medicine Residency at West Virginia University, a 2-year program for physicians who have already completed their residency in another field.
“They come because they want to specifically learn about and be involved in the care of workers,” said Occupational Medicine Residency Director Dr. Chris Martin. “We really train physicians who exist at the interface between the healthcare world and the working world
Through the program, physicians study work related injuries and diseases and more.
NIOSH and WVU are also beginning a new research study on what happens to people why they leave work due to a work related injury.
“How do we really give them the skills and resources and provide the programs to help injured workers get back to work?” said Dr. Martin. “Sadly we’re lacking in many of the programs that the medical literature shows work.”
Dr. Martin said that West Virginia has a lack of meaningful, safe and secure employment and that hopefully the research being done by WVU and NIOSH will help to improve that.
“By safe I don’t just mean safe with respect to bodily harm, but also psychologically safe,” he added. “You need to know that you’ve got a secure job that pays a wage so that you can have opportunities in life because if you don’t have opportunities in life a cascade of other problems follows.”