Journal Articles

Publication Date



International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health


Rapid changes to the nature of work have challenged the capacity of existing occupational safety and health (OSH) systems to ensure safe and productive workplaces. An effective response will require an expanded focus that includes new tools for anticipating and preparing for an uncertain future. Researchers at the U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) have adopted the practice of strategic foresight to structure inquiry into how the future will impact OSH. Rooted in futures studies and strategic management, foresight creates well-researched and informed future scenarios that help organizations better prepare for potential challenges and take advantage of new opportunities. This paper summarizes the inaugural NIOSH strategic foresight project, which sought to promote institutional capacity in applied foresight while exploring the future of OSH research and practice activities. With multidisciplinary teams of subject matter experts at NIOSH, we undertook extensive exploration and information synthesis to inform the development of four alternative future scenarios for OSH. We describe the methods we developed to craft these futures and discuss their implications for OSH, including strategic responses that can serve as the basis for an action-oriented roadmap toward a preferred future.


Occupational Health, Workplace, Forecasting, Uncertainty



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