Development of a Data Query and Visualization Tool for Occupational Health Statistics

Project Name: Development of a Data Query and Visualization Tool for Occupational Health Statistics

Project Status: Proposed

Point of Contact: Rebecca Tsai

Center: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health

Keywords: Charts, Data query, Fatalities, Illnesses, Industries, Injuries, Occupations, Surveillance, Visualization

Project Description: Important occupational health-related information is collected by the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and other US public health surveillance programs. This information includes data that describe the nature and extent of occupational illnesses, injuries, and fatalities; occupational hazards and exposures; and worker populations at risk for adverse health outcomes. Within BLS, the Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (SOII) and the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) provide rich information on US workers’ health. Program managers, coordinators, and project officers within the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and other federal and state public health agencies rely on these data to monitor trends in the burden of injuries, illnesses and fatalities affecting the US workforce. These data are also used to prioritize research and public health interventions and measure the impact of public health programs. However, while BLS data are publicly available, they are neither easily accessible nor presented in a transparent manner. Although BLS produces selected summary tables and charts, these substantial databases are not fully utilized as many informative charts are not presented. To meet one of NIOSH’s strategic goals “ To develop and strengthen the use of surveillance data to identify priorities, trends, and emerging issues,” the NIOSH Division of Surveillance, Hazard Evaluations and Field Studies (DSHEFS) will develop a data query and visualization tool to improve the accessibility and usability of BLS data.

Methodology: The data query and visualization tool is a database driven web application. The data source of this application is a CDC SQL server database containing the most up-to-date BLS data. The application interface is designed as an interactive web-based form. On the form, users are provided options to select desired charting criteria. Examples of charting options include: age, sex, race, major industries, major occupations, nature of injury, body part affected, etc. Charting data types include incidence rates, counts or distributions, and trends of occupational illnesses, injuries, and fatalities. The project team will design and test this web-based data query and visualization tool using BLS CFOI, Current population survey (CPS), and SOII data.

Potential impact of project: The development of this tool will vastly improve the usability of occupational surveillance data in the following ways: 1) Timeliness— users will have one-stop access to relevant data with the interactive data query tool. This will significantly reduce the time spent searching the BLS website for applicable data. This is particularly important when responding to urgent data requests from decision makers. 2) Data visualization— graphic charts will be generated, allowing users to visualize the rates, distribution, and trend of occupational illnesses, injuries, and fatalities. This will permit users to quickly pinpoint changes in trends of workplace injuries and illnesses. 3) Access— this tool will be available for public use. Non-researchers (e.g., employers, states/local policy makers, and forecasters) can easily use this tool to guide policies that will prevent work-related illnesses, injuries, and fatalities.

Applicability for reuse within other public health programs: This tool can be expanded to query and chart data for many existing health and exposure surveillance systems. It takes two steps to apply this tool to many existing surveillance systems: 1) Create pivot tables based on data for each system, following the methods used for BLS; and 2) Integrate the pivot tables into the database. Examples of occupational surveillance systems which could use this tool include the Adult Blood Lead Epidemiology and Surveillance Program, the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, and the National Occupational Mortality Surveillance System. This tool can subsequently be adapted to include other CDC surveillance systems.

Expected results: The success of this project will be measured by user experience and feedback. A user survey could be devised to determine acceptability and usefulness of this tool. Questions would include: “Were the data easily accessible?” and “Was the user able to obtain information in a timely manner?” We will monitor site visits and bounce rates to aid in measuring the level of use of this new tool once released on the internet. We will also track the frequency of search terms in the tool to identify the most requested data/charts. Those charts can then be pre-produced on the website to further assist users.

For more information about this project, please contact the CHIIC at or Brian Lee at

Page last reviewed: February 15, 2019