Losses attributable to fatal occupational illness over time are difficult to describe. Although efforts have been made to estimate the burden of occupational disease in the United States, no surveillance system describes the magnitude of fatal occupational illnesses other than the pneumoconioses (dust diseases of the lung). These illnesses can be described because they are attributable entirely to occupation. Since 1968, more than 113,000 deaths have occurred with pneumoconiosis diagnosed as the underlying or contributing cause - mostly coal workers' pneumoconiosis (CWP). Deaths with CWP have decreased in recent years, whereas deaths with asbestosis increased from 1968 to 1996 (from fewer than 100 to nearly 1,200). Deaths from diseases other than the pneumoconioses are difficult to attribute to the workplace for several reasons. For example, many diseases appear the same with or without occupational exposures. Some have latency periods of many years between exposure and disease development. Furthermore, health care professionals may not identify or consider occupational risk factors when making a diagnosis. Statistically elevated death rates for several diseases have been observed in a variety of occupations, but the degree to which these elevated rates can be directly associated with the workplace is not clear. However, these studies help set priorities for intervention and prevention as well as for future investigation. For example, death rates for persons with pneumoconiosis as an underlying or contributing cause varied by occupation and type of pneumoconiosis. Mining machine operators had high mortality rates from CWP and other/unspecified pneumoconiosis, and insulation workers and related occupations had high mortality rates from asbestosis. Various metalworking, plastic processing, and mining occupations had high mortality rates from silicosis, and textile machine operators and repairers had high mortality rates from byssinosis.
Worker-health; Work-environment; Workplace-studies; Mortality-data; Mortality-rates; Disease-incidence; Pneumoconiosis; Malignant-neoplasms; Hypersensitivity; Cancer; Cancer-rates; Occupational-diseases; Occupations; Lung-disease; Respiratory-system-disorders; Surveillance-programs; Pulmonary-system-disorders