At a Glance

Men holding an Assembly certificate

The Northern Center for Occupational and Environmental Health (COEH) and its sister centers at Los Angeles and Irvine serve government, industry, schools, health professionals, and the general public through programs and partnerships designed to deepen understanding of occupational and environmental hazards and to prevent disease, fatalities, and injuries.

Activities are grounded in multi-campus, multidisciplinary teaching programs in medicine, nursing, public health, and related fields which:

  • Educate future leaders in occupational and environmental health

  • Develop new knowledge

  • Bring the resources of the University of California to the public

Men talking in a group

Educating Students for the Real World of Occupational and Environmental Health 

Protecting health and safety on the job and in the community is a persistent national problem. The workplace statistics alone are stark: Every day an average of 9,000 U.S. workers sustain disabling injuries on the job, 15 workers die from a workplace injury, and another 137 die from work-related illness. That’s nearly 56,000 lives lost annually, and more than three million disabling work injuries each year, costing an estimated $171 billion annually in direct and indirect costs. Still, the U.S. lacks health care professionals with expertise in occupational and environmental health. COEH helps address this shortage by training occupational and environmental health specialists for careers in industry, universities, and government. 

From Basic Laboratory Research to Applied Field Research 

Whether they are probing a single cell or surveying an entire population, COEH researchers have two goals in mind: to prevent injuries and disease in the workplace and to solve critical health problems in our communities. Interdisciplinary collaboration has been the key to powerful results.

The Center for Occupational and Environmental Health (COEH) Video

Northern California COEH: At a Glance

California has had its share of natural disasters, but the State became acutely aware of another, more insidious type of threat in the late 1970s, when workers who had been making the pesticide DBCP discovered that they were sterile. Concerned that California lacked the knowledge and the trained professionals it needed to protect people from work-related hazards, the State passed legislation in 1978 mandating the University to establish teaching, research, and service centers in Northern and Southern California. 

Bridge to the Public

 At its inception, COEH made a commitment to deliver university services directly to the public. This is accomplished through a labor and community education program, a continuing professional education program and clinical services.

Just the Facts

  • Director: Carisa Harris-Adamson PhD, CPE
  • Previous Director: John R. Balmes, MD

  • Founding Director: Robert C. Spear, PhD

  • Established as a permanent part of the University of California in 1980. 

  • One of 18 regional Education and Research Centers funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). 

  • Involves approximately 60 faculty, plus researchers and other professional staff from many schools and disciplines on the three Northern California campuses. 

  • Funded at $2.8 million by the University of California. 

  • Over $39 million in extramural funding directed by COEH faculty.

Why was COEH created?

Concerned that California lacked the knowledge and the trained professionals it needed to protect people from work-related hazards, the State passed legislation in 1978 mandating the University to establish teaching, research, and service centers in Northern and Southern California. The Center for Occupational and Environmental Health (COEH) and its sister centers at Los Angeles and Irvine serve government, industry, schools, health professionals, and the general public through programs and partnerships designed to deepen understanding of occupational and environmental hazards and to prevent disease, fatalities, and injuries.