WHO Collaborating Centers in Workers´ Health


Fundacentro is a public institution devoted to research, training and technical assistance in safety, hygiene, and occupational health, linked to the Brazilian Ministry of Economy.

It was founded in 1966, when a rapid cycle of industrialization began, and occupational safety and health problems were increasing in Brazil. Fundacentro started actions for mitigating occupational diseases and accidents through to development of labour regulatory standards. 

Today, Fundacentro has its main center in São Paulo and other 13 regional offices throughout the country, with which conducts programs and projects. Some of them in collaboration with the Pan American Health Organization, World Health Organization and the International Labour Organization, aside partnerships with Japan, Australia and other countries in the Americas and Europe.

Fundacentro has long history of collaboration with PAHO/WHO since the beginning of the CCs Network. Currently collaborates by means of preventing occupational non-communicable diseases, construction of tools, standards and capacities for healthy workplaces, and strengthening health systems, governance, capacities and service delivery for workers’ health.

As of now, Fundacentro projects are linked to (i) epidemiology and clinical features of occupational respiratory diseases, (ii) asbestos exposure, through of interdisciplinary studies on health effects due to occupational asbestos exposure and mortality patterns in former asbestos-cement workers, (iii) prevention and control of occupational exposure to environmental heat, through of setting and mapping the heat exposure risk in outdoor workspaces and behaviour of the extreme heat due to climate change in Brazil, and capacitation, information dissemination and training on (iv) occupational exposure to heavy metals, (v) safety with dangerous substances in the workplaces, and (vi) prevention potential risks arising from nanotechnologies.

Canadian Centre for OH & Safety (CCOHS)

The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) is Canada's national organization dedicated to the advancement of workplace health and safety, ultimately for the benefit and protection of working people. To fulfill this mandate CCOHS provides credible information, guidance, and advice, courses and knowledge transfer services that promote the total well-being – physical, psychosocial and mental health - of workers. CCOHS also offers software and management systems to help workplaces achieve compliance with health and safety legislation. CCOHS partners and collaborates with like-minded organizations and enterprises such as PAHO on injury and illness prevention initiatives.

As a Pan American Health Organization (PAHO)/World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Centre CCOHS contributes to several projects to advance workplace health and safety globally:

  • The International Programme on Chemical Safety (IPCS) INCHEM database is a collection of international peer-reviewed information on chemicals commonly used around the world. INCHEM contains information essential for the sound management of chemicals that affect the environment and human health.
  • The e-course, Occupational and Environmental Cancer: Recognition and Prevention, was created to increase awareness of occupational and environmental causes of cancer. This free online course, designed for primary healthcare providers, is available in English, French, and Spanish.
  • The Young Worker Zone provides youth with free access to an immersive educational experience to help prepare them for the world of work. The site includes a comprehensive range of credible resources and practical tools related to workplace health, safety and well-being, specific to students, youth and workers new to the workforce.

CINBIOSE U. of Quebec a Montreal UQAM

Founded in 1987, the Interdisciplinary Research Center on Welbeing, Health, Society and Environment (CINBIOSE from its name in French), is a pioneer center in the study of the links between health, the environment and society and contributes to the development of knowledge and innovative interventions in occupational and environmental health in Canada and other countries. CINBIOSE’s trademark is its ecosystem approach to health, which unites its local and international members across a broad spectrum of disciplines. CINBIOSE develops research that promotes social and gender equality with the participation of partners in many sectors, with the goal of sharing knowledge and developing solutions that take into account the experiences and needs of communities and individuals.

CINBIOSE has been a Collaborating Center since 1998. It has a mandate to support and contribute to PAHO/WHO’s work in occupational and environmental health research, capacity building, and the development of community-based research projects. It contributes to this work by developing and integrating the global transdisciplinary ecosystem approach to human health in research and training, by supporting the participation of community groups and labour organizations in action-oriented research, and by systematically integrating gender considerations into its research. CINBIOSE’s recent collaborative activities include the development of: training materials and capacity building on the ecosystem approach to health, an understanding of the impact of the ecosystem approach on policy and practice, an understanding of work-family conflict in the context of precarious work, the full integration of gender into prevention in occupational health, and an analysis of the interaction between environmental, occupational and community health promotion frameworks and practices.

Institut de Recherche en Santé et Securité au Travail IRSST

The Institut de recherche Robert-Sauvé en santé et en sécurité du travail (IRSST) is a private, non-profit, scientific research organization established in 1980 in Montréal, Québec. In the spirit of Québec’s Act respecting occupational health and safety, the IRSST’s mission is to contribute, through research, to the prevention of industrial accidents and occupational diseases and to the rehabilitation of affected workers; to disseminate knowledge and serve as a scientific reference centre; and to provide the laboratory services and expertise required to support the social partners. The IRSST team consists of some 150 individuals representing various disciplines.

IRSST has been a WHO/PAHO Collaborating Center since 2013. In line with PAHO’s initiative to prevent occupational cancer, IRSST has contributed to: (i) the regional CAREX project to provide a detailed description of the breakdown by economic sector and occupational group of workers exposed to carcinogenic substances or conditions in Québec; (ii) study of worker exposures to 5 anti-neoplastic drugs in hospital environments where cleaning and sanitation tasks are done; (iii) a stakeholders’ meeting to discuss different alternatives for preventing exposures to occupational carcinogens (asbestos, silica, diesel exhaust and welding fume components) jointly with PAHO/WHO CC (CAN-89) and Université de Montréal. In support of PAHO’s AP 2015-2025, IRSST is carrying out an exploratory evaluation of exposure of e-waste recycling workers to chemical contaminants. Aligned with the PAHO/WHO initiative of establishing a global observatory of workers’ health, IRSST is documenting methods to estimate the economic burden of occupational injuries and diseases.

University of British Columbia

The Global Health Research Program (GHRP) at the School of Population and Public Health was established at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in 2005 as a unit to promote the pursuit of global health research at UBC, as well as actively conduct research investigating better ways of understanding and addressing environmental and occupational health challenges by applying an ecosystem approach. With the active participation of a range of research associates and trainees at UBC and other universities, and long-term collaborations with low- and middle-income country partners (especially South Africa in southern Africa and Ecuador in Latin America), the GHRP maintains an active research and learning platform.

Since its designation as a CC in 2013, the GHRP performs research, provides training and education, and develops and evaluates the application of appropriate technology with particular focus on building best practices in occupational health for healthcare workers and promoting effective ecosystem approaches to complex occupational and environmental health problems.

Current GHRP activities include:

  • Applying occupational health and safety information systems in healthcare, particularly OHASIS (the Occupational Health and Safety Information System)
  • Assessing implementation of HealthWISE in Southern Africa
  • Assessing implementation of WHO-ILO-UNAIDS guidelines on HIV and TB
  • Promoting best practices in occupational health for healthcare workers in the America
  • Ecosystem approach to antimicrobial resistance
  • Developing tools to build capacity, using information and communication technologies.

Occupational Cancer Research Center

The Occupational Cancer Research Centre (OCRC), based in Toronto with collaborators across Canada, is an applied research centre focused on identifying the causes of cancer, effective prevention measures, and innovative surveillance of occupational cancer and carcinogens that can be used to inform and target prevention programs. CAREX Canada, based in the Vancouver area with staff across Canada, is a multi-institution team of researchers dedicated to providing knowledge about Canadians’ exposure to known and suspected carcinogens, in order to support organizations in prioritizing exposures and in developing targeted exposure reduction policies and programs.

The OCRC collaborative work with PAHO is focused on occupational carcinogen exposure assessment and occupational cancer prevention in the region. For over 10 years, the OCRC and CAREX Canada have supported the development of national CAREX projects in Latin American and Caribbean countries through knowledge exchange and training activities hosted by PAHO and partners in the Latin American and Caribbean region. OCRC also supports research on asbestos-related disease, the regional initiative to eliminate silicosis, and have led a study on the burden of occupational cancer in Canada whose methods can be adapted to Latin America and the Caribbean in order to improve estimates of the global burden of disease.

Institute of Public Health ISPHCL

The Chilean Institute of Public Health (ISPCH From its name in spanish) created as the Hygiene Institute (1982-1924) and later transformed into the Bacterioligy Institute (1924-1980).Today is recognized as a national service with a long history in the development of public health services, and is part of the institutions attached to the Ministry of Health. Its decentralized public services fulfill the functions established by the 2005 Decree with the Law of Force No. 1 issued by the Ministry of Health, acting as a National and Reference Laboratory in multiple and diverse areas of Public Health, including a wide range of laboratory services and in the fields of environmental pollution and occupational health. As all its areas, the Department of Occupational Health is qualified and empowered to:

  • Provide technical assistance and advisory services to other organizations and public and private entities;
  • Promote and conduct research related to occupational health and safety, and,
  • Develop training activities in areas of their competence.

The Department of Occupational Health of the ISPCH was designated as the PAHO/WHO Collaborating Center since the beginning of the CC networkin the 1990s, and was re-appointed on July 29, 2016, in recognition of its contributions to PAHO/WHO. Currently, its collaboration is aimed at contributing to the implementation of the WHO Global Action Plan 2008-2017 and the PAHO Regional Action Plan on Workers' Health 2015-2025 in several of the regional and national programs on different topics:

  • Contributing to the Regional Occupational Cancer prevention strategy through the formulation of the national CAREX-Chile project.
  • Contributing to the prevention and follow-up of pneumoconiosis of occupational origin, in particular silicosis and asbestosis, through leadership of the regional and national silicosis eradication programs.
  • Building and developing tools, standards and capacities for the evaluation of environmental and occupational exposures to asbestos and other chemical substances, as well as assessment of ventilation systems.
  • Building the evidence to protect and promote the health and safety of workers in high-risk sectors, particularly mining at high altitudes.
  • Building tools, standards and capacities for promotion and development of healthy workplaces, with ergonomic and gender approaches, including work-family balance.

 Universidad El Bosque

El Bosque University is a multidisciplinary superior education academic institution articulating and focusing its development (training, research, transfer and services) on health and life quality. The occupational health graduate programs started back in 1984, and later extended to other areas: Occupational/Industrial Hygiene and Ergonomics. Since then, more than 700 specialists have graduated during the last 35 years of academic performance, leading to develop qualified human talent and research with nationwide impact. Its academic staff and graduates work on relevant projects and several companies, aiming to improve and develop knowledge and solution to protect and improve worker´s health.

El Bosque University was designated as a PAHO/WHO Collaborating Center in Occupational Health in 2016, being one of the youngest CC in this area and one of the few in Latin America and the Caribbean. Since then, they contributed to several key projects for advancing the Plan of action on Workers’ Health 2015-2025. Emphasis has been given to implementing solutions for the health sector, including the Spanish translation, final review and validation for ILO/WHO Health-WISE took kit (Action Manual and Trainers' Guide), and its application in two pilot projects in public and private health institutions.

As a part of a strategic alliance between El Bosque University and the National Cancer Institute of Colombia, several projects were developed: 1) a training module for pharmaceutical chemists and technologists that were occupationally exposed to neoplastic mixes; 2) a research project entitled “Occupational exposure to carcinogen agents in formal and informal workers. Colombia, 2000 – 2017; and 3) a document review aiming to develop a specialized workshop oriented to update the Colombia CAREX in formal and informal economic sectors.

El Bosque University makes part of the Regional CAREX group and will continue to support to PAHO on these efforts.

Nat. Inst. of Workers' Health, M. of Public Health

The National Institute of Workers' Health (INSAT) has developed scientific research in the field of Occupational Health and Occupational Medicine to address the main workers’ needs and provide undergrad, graduate and academic activities in related medical fields specialties, both for Cubans and professionals of other countries. It has been a member of the PAHO/WHO Network of CCs since 1991, contributing to multiple and significant projects at national level, as well as for Latin America and the Caribbean.

Within the main functions of INSAT, they provide specialized medical care for workers exposed to occupational hazards; and training and participation in the supervision and control of the national activity Medical Expert Evaluation of Impairment, based on the indications of the Cuban Ministry of Public Health. INSAT collaborates with the technical and scientific agendas with the World and Pan American Health Organizations, the International Labor Organization; and other related institutions aimed to promote, protect, safeguard and rehabilitate workers’ health and achieving healthy workplaces.

During the last years they have been contributing to progress on Universal Health Coverage of occupational health services in Primary Care Units, assessing the impact of climate change on work and health, assessing the impact of several occupational diseases, and understanding the impacts of informal employment on the workforce. All seeking to contribute to attain the SDG agenda.

Saint George's University

The Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine (DPHPM) at St. George’s University was designated as a PAHO/WHO Collaborating Center on Environmental and Occupational Health in August 10, 2012. It is the first CC designated in the Caribbean and its main goal is to meet two objectives: 1) Contribute to the implementation of PAHO/WHO's Action Plan on Workers’ Health and its objectives, and 2) Develop and strengthen institutional capacities in Caribbean countries.

The St. George’s University CC is committed to contribute to PAHO/WHO’s action plan on workers’ health in a number of ways, including:

  • to identify, evaluate, prevent and control hazardous conditions and exposures in the workplace, particularly in the agricultural sector and building the Caribbean CAREX project;
  • to collaborate with PAHO/WHO in developing evidence-based research from an occupational health perspective on emerging issues, including environmental health problems and climate change;
  • to support for developing and disseminating curricula, training materials and training for occupational health capacity building in the Caribbean region, particularly for the health sector using the HealthWISE tool;
  • to strengthen diagnostic capacity, information systems, epidemiological surveillance and research on occupational diseases, injuries and deaths in the Caribbean; and,
  • in general, to contribute towards the implementation of the Regional and Global Plan of Action on Workers' Health and collaborate with other collaborating centers to achieve concrete outcomes.


The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 established NIOSH as a research agency focused on the study of worker safety and health, and empowering employers and workers to create safe and healthy workplaces.

NIOSH is within the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It has the mandate to assure “every man and woman in the Nation safe and healthful working conditions and to preserve our human resources.”

NIOSH has more than 1,300 employees from fields including epidemiology, medicine, nursing, industrial hygiene, safety, psychology, chemistry, statistics, economics, and engineering.

NIOSH’s third Strategic Goal is to “enhance worker safety and health through global collaborations”. NIOSH is a WHO/PAHO Collaborating Center since 1976. For many years, NIOSH provided leadership for the Global Network of Collaborating Centers as the Chair of the Network. Although no longer Chair, NIOSH continues to provide technical assistance to WHO and PAHO.

During the last years, NIOSH has worked collaboratively with WHO/PAHO on actions and capacity building for the elimination of silicosis, preparedness and response to public health emergencies post-hurricanes and other emergency situations, studying the occurrence of Chronic Kidney Diseases of Non-Traditional Origin in Latin America, and investigating mercury exposures related to gold mining in Guyana.
NIOSH is supporting PAHO’s in-person Collaborating Centers Meeting August 22-23, 2019. NIOSH staff participated in Webinar Preparatory e-meetings on Silicosis Eradication; Healthcare Workers, Workers’ Health Promotion; Informal Sector and Universal Health Coverage; and Climate Change.

U. of Texas

The WHO Collaborating Centre at The University of Texas, established in 1986, is housed in the Southwest Center for Occupational and Environmental Health (SWCOEH) at The University of Texas, School of Public Health in the Houston-based Texas Medical Center, the largest medical center in the world.

The SWCOEH is a NIOSH-supported Education and Research Center, with training and research in industrial hygiene, occupational medicine, occupational epidemiology, total worker health, continuing education/outreach and pilot projects research training. SWCOEH has a long history of training professionals in occupational and environmental health from Latin America, in partnership with key collaborating institutions there.

Collaboration with PAHO revolves around four activities:
• Short-term occupational health training for primary care providers.
• Dissemination of Spanish-language scientific information in occupational health.
• Building basic national indicators of workers’ health in Latin America.
• Development of national surveys on working conditions and health for Latin America

USA-183 University of Texas collaborates closely with the PAHO/WHO Collaborating Centre COR-8 (Costa Rica), its SALTRA program (Salud, Trabajo y Ambiente en América Central), and the Pompeu Fabra University (Barcelona, Spain) in research and teaching. USA-183 University of Texas successfully conducted the First (2011) and Second (2018) Central American Surveys of Working Conditions and Health. This survey methodology and questionnaire has now been expanded to nearly 20 Latin American countries, through an expert network co-founded six years ago (ECoTES). In training, the collaborative “triangle” facilitates co-mentoring of graduate students in respective academic institutions. USA-183 University of Texas is also a member of the Network of WHO Collaborating Centers in Occupational Health since its founding in 1992.

U. of Illinois at Chicago

The Great Lakes Center (GLC), is a WHO/PAHO Collaborating Center in Occupational and Environmental Health, since the foundation of the global network. The Collaborating Center work towards the WHO Declaration of Occupational Health for All and the PAHO Plan of Action on Worker’s Health 2015-2025.

GLC work with WHO and PAHO spans throughout the Americas and Eastern Europe.

GLC has collaborated with PAHO/WHO on projects related to occupational diseases—developing educational modules and teaching the content of occupational health; and developing diagnostic criteria of occupational diseases to improve surveillance. As well, building capacities for pneumoconiosis surveillance, and on-line through the Global Program in Occupational Health Practice that has completed 9 years training students all over the world. Worth mentioning is also the Geolibrary that constitutes a collaborative effort for the WHO Global Action Plan, serving as a clearance house for occupational and environmental training resources in multiple languages and the website allows to use all the materials freely. In recent years they contributed to with activities on cutting-edge topics such as Climate Change and Work.

U. of Maryland

The University of Maryland School of Medicine Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine is a team of researchers, educators and clinicians dedicated to protecting workers’ health and improving the understanding of occupational hazards and their prevention. Since 1986, the Division has accomplished this mission by providing clinical services, workplace hazard assessments, employer consultation, worker training and scholarly investigation.

The Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine was designated as a PAHO/WHO Collaborating Center for Occupational Health in 2009. The staff provides technical expertise and content knowledge in support of the WHO Global Plan of Action on Workers' Health, with an emphasis on the healthcare sector.

University of Maryland also coordinates the global efforts of other CCs possessing activities in the health sector. The team is also a resource for supporting the PAHO Health, Safety and Wellbeing Committee promoting activities to protect the health, safety and wellbeing of PAHO’s staff. In addition, the collaborating center also provides toxicology and infection control training in collaboration with other PAHO partners and Collaborating Centers in the Caribbean and the Americas.

Other important contributions deal with developing methodologies for safe handling of hazardous chemotherapy drugs in limited-resources settings, in joint efforts with other partners and CCs in LAC.


The Central American Institute for Studies on Toxic Substances of the National University (IRET-UNA) is a research institute committed to sustainable development, protection and conservation of natural ecosystems, workers’ life quality and society affected by toxic substances and other human activities.

The IRET is constituted by an interdisciplinary team that leads three masters’ programs (occupational health, bioethics and environmental ecotoxicology). Their work areas include, within others:
• Import and use of agrochemicals registrations
• Exposure and risk assessment (environmental and human)
• Impact assessment for terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, as well in community and workplace settings
• Epidemiological studies
• Continuing education
• National and international academic exchange
• Provide alternatives that reduce environmental emissions and the use of toxic substances.

IRET is a WHO-collaborating Centre since 2004 and aims to contribute to WHO/PAHO´s work in four main areas:
1) prevention non-communicable diseases 2) knowledge networks on occupational health and safety, 3) strengthening diagnosis and exposure criteria for occupational diseases, and 4) reduction in the number of deaths and diseases from hazardous chemicals products and contamination.

Recent work includes:

  • Regional coordination of the Central American Program for Health, Work and Environmental (SALTRA)
  • The 2nd Central American Survey on Working Conditions and Health.
  • Research with informal coffee and palm oil workers
  • Updating occupational exposures to carcinogens through CAREX national projects
  • Coordination of international consortium (CENCAM) for chronic kidney disease of non-traditional origin
  • Promotion of Ecosystem Approaches to Human Health through EkoSanté and the development of a virtual course
  • Analysis of prenatal and postnatal exposure to pesticides and manganese, and their possible effects on health in children and their mothers through the ISA cohort
  • Updating of an online pesticide manual for Central America
  • Participation in the Childhood Leukemia International Consortium (CLIC)
  • Coordination of the Latin American Chapter of the International Society of Environmental Epidemiology.