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Alaska's model occupational injury program: applying surveillance for effective public health practice.

Conway-GA; Lincoln-JM; Husberg-BJ; Manwaring-JC; Bensyl-DM; Choromanski-DM
Int J Circumpolar Health 2001 Nov; 60(4):714-723
NIOSH established its Alaska Field Station in Anchorage, Alaska, in 1991, after identifying Alaska as America's highest-risk state for traumatic worker fatalities. Since then, NIOSH established comprehensive occupational injury surveillance in Alaska, and formed and facilitated interagency working groups (of state and federal agencies) and industry, labor, and professional organizations to address major factors leading to occupational death and injury in the state. Descriptive epidemiologic study of registry surveillance data obtained via direct on-site investigation of incidents and data-sharing with jurisdictional agencies. We established a surveillance system, obtaining information via data-sharing with jurisdictional agencies and from direct on-site investigation of incidents. Also, we collaborate with state and regional government agencies, industry, workers, and non-governmental organizations to develop interventions. During 1991-1999, Alaska experienced a 50-percent overall decline in work-related deaths, including a substantial decline in commercial fishing deaths, and a very sharp decline in helicopter logging-related deaths. These efforts have lead to major national and international government-industry collaborative efforts in improving the safety of helicopter lift operations, and a concomitant improvement in fishing industry mortality rates among workers fishing Alaskan seas. Using surveillance data as information for action, these collaborative efforts have contributed to reducing Alaska's high occupational fatality rate. This reduction has been most clearly demonstrated in the rapidly expanding helicopter logging industry. The application of surveillance data also has played an important supportive role in the substantial progress made in reducing the mortality rate in Alaska's commercial fishing industry--historically, Alaska's (and America's) most dangerous industry, and the worst killer of Alaskan workers. Results suggest that extending Alaska's approach to occupational injury surveillance and prevention to other parts of the country, and application of these strategies to the entire spectrum of occupational injury hazards, could have a broad impact on reducing occupational injuries.
Fishing-industry; Accident-prevention; Accidents; Traumatic-injuries; Injuries; Injury-prevention; Equipment-design; Safety-equipment; Safety-practices; Safety-programs
CDC/NIOSH/DSR, Anchorage, Alaska 99508
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International Journal of Circumpolar Health