This Institute started as “Occupational Health Research Institute” (OHRI) in the year 1966 and was re-christened as “National Institute of Occupational Health” (NIOH) in 1970 presently located in the Eastern part of Ahmedabad. Two Regional Occupational Health Centers (ROHCs) were started at Bengaluru in 1977 and at Kolkata in 1980.
The major objectives of the Institute and its centers are to identify and mitigate the occupational and environmental health problems in the country. The tools used for this purpose are research, education and information dissemination. Epidemiological studies are used as the gold standard in occupational and environmental health and experimental studies are done as and when necessary. Most of the epidemiological studies need a multi disciplinary approach for which infrastructure facilities and trained manpower have been developed at the Institute. Besides clinical work, environmental monitoring for toxic agents in the working and community environment form an integral component of various studies. At present, the Institute has the state-of-art analytical facilities for metals, pesticides, persistent toxic substances and other chemicals. Molecular biology facilities and other laboratories are also being upgraded.
NIOH has carried out pioneering research work in many occupational diseases and has also developed preventive intervention and control measures, which are economical and locally available. Some of the examples are control of silicosis in unorganized sectors like Agate, Quartz Crushing, Stone quarry etc. and green tobacco sickness in tobacco harvesters. These control measures have been widely popular and accepted by the workers as well as the owners.
The Institute functions as a WHO Collaborative and Reference Centre for Occupational Health. The Institute has represented in many important functions of the Govt of India, including the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Ministry of Labour, Ministry of Environment and Forests, Ministry of Agriculture, etc., to generate data and provide guidance and recommendations on issues related to occupational and environmental health. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has identified Occupational Health as one of the national priority areas in the 9th five year plan and the NIOH has been identified as the Nodal Agency for nine projects.