We have just received word that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the government agency whose mission it is to “to protect America from health, safety and security threats, both foreign and in the U.S.,” has issued a list of words and phrases that CDC staff is forbidden to use.

Well, it’s about time.

Because if there’s one thing that both Trump administration officials and sane people can all agree on is that forbidding the use of such controversial words as “fetus,” “transgender,” “diversity,” “fetus,” “evidence-based” and “science-based” is necessary if you’re serious about protecting Americans from health, safety and security threats, both foreign and domestic.  Where would we be in the battle against cancer, opioids, HIV, ebola, killer influenzas and other public health threats if we were to continue to make references to “evidence-based” policy or, God forbid, “transgender” stuff?

And speaking of minor public health problems like cancer and opioid addiction, we have also learned that the Trump’s new Director of CDC, Brenda Fitzgerald, is unable to work on those issues because she has far too many conflicts of interest. Who could have guessed? Except possibly someone vetting her nomination or reading her financial disclosure forms?


But What About NIOSH?

Confined Space is a serious newsletter of workplace safety and health issues, so it is our responsibility to determine what effect these developments will have on the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), which is part of CDC. NIOSH’s mission is to “To develop new knowledge in the field of occupational safety and health and to transfer that knowledge into practice.”  But after reading About NIOSH on their website, it’s clear that they have some serious work to do. One heading is titled “Diversity at NIOSH” and one of their “Values” is “Diversity.” What’s that all about?  And don’t even try to search their website for phrases like “science based” or “evidence based.”

So as a free public service, I’m going to suggest a few words and phrases that NIOSH should also forbid, and some suitable replacements. Feel free to use the Comments section to make additional suggestions:

  • cancer = challenged cells
  • toxic chemicals = chemicals with interesting side-effects
  • amputation = limb separation
  • death = those who have gone to a better place
  • injured worker = careless worker
  • falls = gravitational carelessness
  • worker complaint = whining
  • slips and trips = clumsiness
  • musculoskeletal disorder = normal aging
  • back injury = old sports injury
  • silica = sand
  • workplace violence (health care) = worker failure to control the patient
  • workplace violence (retail establishment) = just one of those things
  • infectious disease = condition resulting from unsanitary behavior
  • bloodborne pathogens = Eww! Gross!

And to help NIOSH put this into effect, I have suggested some slight changes to the current headline on the NIOSH Home Page:Musculoskeletal Health Research to Benefit Temporary Retail Workers.” This is very useful and timely information in this holiday season when thousands of temp workers are being hired to lift and load heavy packages in an effort to get gifts into the hands of all the good little boys and girls (and their parents) before Christmas morning. But clearly the title is completely inappropriate.

So to assist NIOSH in this effort to cleanse their website of offensive terminology, I rewrote the headline to make it more acceptable in these Trumpian times:

“Research to Prevent Clumsiness, Old Sports Injuries and Normal Aging from Affecting the Labor Supply During the Christmas Season.”

I hope this has helped. Now you can go back to sitting around the fire, singing Christmas Carols or Hanukkah songs or Kwanza tunes or whatever without worrying about pandemic outbreaks, opioid addiction,ebola or deadly flu pandemics.

CDC has you covered.

3 thoughts on “CDC Censors List of Words: What Does This Mean For NIOSH?”
  1. It’s a good thing you tagged “humor” in your keywords… these days I shudder to think how many people may read your post and think, oh, gee, yes, maybe those chemicals do have interesting side effects, and golly, that worker who fell must have been so darn careless… This latest attempt by this administration to censor CDC seriously horrifies me. #sciencesaveslives

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