The Northwest Center for Occupational Health and Safety (NWCOHS) is a multi-component training program dedicated to prevention of work-related injury and illness, and the promotion of well-being among diverse workforce in the four federal Region X states of Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. The Center provides academic training for professional workforce needs, continuing professional education for practitioners, and research services to employers, workers, and health and safety professionals. Since 1977, the NWCOHS has been funded as a National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Education and Research Center (ERC). The NWCOHS is housed within the University of Washington’s School of Public Health and School of Medicine in Seattle, WA. Its location provides a vast array of opportunities for training and research activities - the UW is among the top public universities in the country and, in addition, Seattle is home to a number of significant preventive health-oriented institutions with close ties to the UW, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and Program for Appropriate Technology in Health.
As the only ERC in our four-state region, the NWCOHS is a critical resource to business, labor, and public health practitioners in preventing work-related injury and illness. We partner with these groups, state governmental agencies, and professional associations in ensuring adequate training, continuing education, and research services to the region.
The programs of the NWCOHS train Master's (MS and MPH) and doctoral-level researchers and practitioners in several occupational health and safety disciplines. The typical student enrollment in NWCOHS-related programs is roughly 25 students per year, of whom the Center supports about two-thirds as NIOSH trainees. The NWCOHS also provides continuing education programs to the region’s practitioners and collaborates with several other institutions in the region to enhance the prevention activities of the Center, and of the collaborating partners. The NWCOHS is made up of an administrative core, three core academic programs [Industrial Hygiene / Exposure Science (IH/ES), Occupational Health Nursing (OHN) and Occupational Medicine Residency (OMR)], and three allied academic programs, Occupational Health Services Research (OHSR), Occupational Health at the Human-Animal Interface (OHHAI), and Construction Management Safety and Health (CMOSH). In addition, the NWCOHS includes a program of Continuing Education (CE) and other outreach activities.
The three core academic programs of IH/ES, OHN and OMR train graduate students in the traditional disciplines associated with occupational health prevention services. The NWCOHS IH/ES program is in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences. The MPH in OHN program aims to produce graduate-level trained nurses specializing in occupational health and safety to meet current and emerging challenges affecting the well-being of worker populations. The program instills an understanding how multi-level societal factors influence industry presence, job opportunities, and working conditions, beyond learning about measures to control workplace hazards and the clinical management of occupational injury and illness. The OMR program trains physicians in clinical and academic Occupational and Environmental Medicine with a combined MPH and an extended residency leading to board certification in Occupational Medicine. The OMR program additionally offers MPH training to the Occupational / Preventive Medicine residents from Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
In addition, the NWCOHS includes a large and active continuing education and outreach program that provides up-to-date training for practicing occupational health and safety professionals. It is part of a larger CE program which includes the region’s only OSHA Education Center providing OSHA-approved courses for workers and managers in a variety of industries. It also provides an National Institute of Environmental Health Science-supported training program reaching special populations including emergency response personnel, port personnel, immigrants and other special risk populations, and Native American tribal organizations.
The NWCOHS provides a focal point for attention to work-related health and safety problems within the dynamic environment of the University of Washington and the Region X states. In addition to providing research-based training in the traditional core disciplines involved in the prevention of occupational disease and injury, the NWCOH strives to collaborate with institutions across the region to provide innovative and cutting-edge solutions to the problems associated with work in the 21st century.