Volume 16, Number 3 (July 2018)
John Howard, M.D.
Reducing the Work Involved in Coding Work-related Data
As researchers, we ask a lot of questions. Working in occupational safety and health, most of our questions focus on identifying emerging exposures, illnesses, or injuries occurring at U.S. worksites. We use some of these key sources of data to help answer our questions:
- Health surveys
- Cancer registries
- Birth and death certificates
- Medical records
- Workers’ compensation data
These data sources gather information about a person’s type of business (industry) and job (occupation), which are important determinants of health. People can describe their job or the industry in which they work in an infinite number of ways, which makes interpretation difficult. For example, someone in the information technology field may describe their job as programmer, information technologist, IT specialist, systems analyst, developer, computer scientist, or system engineer. To make these personal descriptions of industry and occupation usable for public health, they must be converted to standardized codes. This process is known as Industry and Occupation (I&O) coding.
National standardized code sets such as NAICSexternal icon, SOCexternal icon, and the U.S. Censusexternal icon help categorize industry and occupation text into standardized codes. Applying these standardized codes, however, is complicated. In addition to the challenges described above, the raw data may have misspellings, use a company name instead of the industry, or contain vague answers, which make accurate coding even more difficult. All of these factors make manually coding this information extremely time consuming and expensive.
Since the late 1970s, NIOSH has collaborated with federal and state agencies to collect and code I&O from records to identify and assess trends of work-related diseases, injuries, and exposures. The NIOSH I&O Computerized Coding System (NIOCCS) was created as a result to address the challenges mentioned above. NIOCCS is a web-based application that takes written descriptions of types of businesses and jobs and translates them into standardized industry and occupation codes that make records easier to analyze. Since its initial launch, NIOCCS has been used to code nearly 27 million industry and occupation records submitted by all kinds of sources like researchers, federal and state government agencies, and hospitals, to name a few. This illustrates that NIOCCS is in strong demand by a diverse set of stakeholders.
In April 2018, NIOSH updated NIOCCS to enhance user experience and further broaden the application’s utility. Here are a few of the updates:
- Improved autocoding rates, which significantly reduce the number of records that need to be coded manually (looking up the codes yourself)
- Added ability to code occupation into workers’ compensation data, which normally only contains NAICS industry codes along with occupation text
- Included detailed NAICSexternal icon and SOCexternal icon codes in output files in addition to the Census I&O codes
- Simplified upload process to allow for uploading and autocoding in one step
NIOCCS is available free of charge and requires internet access for use. Users must register for a NIOCCS account if they wish to upload files of records for coding. If you have any questions, please contact us at NIOCCS@cdc.gov.
New Resource on NIOSH’s Response to Opioid Use in the Workplace
The potential for opioid addiction may result from injuries that happen in the workplace, with the consequences affecting both an individual’s working life as well as their home life. NIOSH has a new web page available, NIOSH’s Response to Opioid Use in the Workplace. This webpage will be continually updated as new information becomes available.
Last Chance to Submit Nominations for the 2019 Safe-in-Sound Excellence in Hearing Loss Prevention Awards™
Nominations for the 2019 Safe-in-Sound Excellence in Hearing Loss Prevention Award™ must be submitted by midnight on July 13external icon. The award, given by NIOSH and partners, recognizes those who demonstrate, by example, the benefits of developing or following good hearing loss prevention practices.
- New Resource on NIOSH’s Response to Opioid Use in the Workplace
- Last Chance to Submit Nominations for the 2019 Safe-in-Sound Excellence in Hearing Loss Prevention Awards™
- NIOSH Resources for Working Safely in the Heat
- Free NIOSH Webinar: Integrating Functional Outcomes with Clinical Measures
- Study Looks at Health Insurance Coverage among Working Adults
- Find Tools to Make Safe + Sound Week Simple
- NIOSH and West Virginia University Partner to Improve Workplace Health and Safety
- June Edition of NIOSH Research Rounds Available
NIOSH Resources for Working Safely in the Heat
Summer is here and that means it is time to take precautions to make sure you stay safe while working in the heat. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for the latest heat-related resources, and be sure to download the free OSHA-NIOSH Heat Safety Tool App.
Free NIOSH Webinar: Integrating Functional Outcomes with Clinical Measures
Join us for a special NIOSH Total Worker Health (TWH) and Center for Workers’ Compensation Studies webinar, Integrating Functional Outcomes with Clinical Measures, on Tuesday, July 24, 1–2:30 pm ET. During the webinar, Dr. Kathryn Mueller and Dr. T. Warner Hudson will explore the benefits of integrating functional outcomes with clinical process measures as a basic approach to patient care in the U.S. By considering functional outcomes with TWH approaches in workplaces, organizations and occupational safety and health providers and practitioners may better address the challenges faced by workers experiencing these injuries and illnesses. Free continuing education credits for this event are pending. Registerexternal icon to join via Adobe Connect.
Study Looks at Health Insurance Coverage among Working Adults
In a recent NIOSH study looking at health insurance coverage for working adults, researchers found that the overall percentage of workers aged 18‒64 years who did not have health insurance declined significantly from 16.0% in 2013 to 12.7% in 2014, but percentages varied significantly by occupation in both years. In 2014, for example, the percent of uninsured workers among broad occupational groups ranged from 2.7% to 37.0%. Identifying factors affecting differences in insurance rates by occupation might help target interventions to reduce health disparities among U.S. workers.
Find Tools to Make Safe + Sound Week Simple
Safe + Sound Week, August 13–19, is just around the corner. Start brainstorming events and activities your organization will do to show your commitment to safety in your workplace. To make Safe + Sound Week participation easy, see the customizable communications pieces, graphics, event planning tools, and much more available at Safe + Sound Weekexternal icon. Already planned a Safe + Sound Week event? You can register your event at Safe + Sound Weekexternal icon to be included on a map of events across the country!
NIOSH and West Virginia University Partner to Improve Workplace Health and Safety
In a new collaborative partnershipexternal icon, West Virginia University is expanding efforts to enhance workplace health and safety. Through a new Scholar in Residence program at NIOSH, Douglas Myers, an associate professor in the WVU School of Public Health, will serve as a primary liaison between WVU and several local, regional, and state partners. As a “guest researcher” with NIOSH, Myers will coordinate opportunities for faculty, students, and researchers to collaborate and share ideas.
June Edition of NIOSH Research Rounds Available
This month’s NIOSH Research Rounds newsletter includes information on
- NIOSH researchers using computer programming—specifically, machine learning—to identify industries at high risk for certain ergonomic hazards
- Baggage handlers applying a lift-assist system helps to reduce workplace injuries
- Details on a study to improve the health of new construction workers
- Information about a study helping employers to create family-friendly workplaces
Dr. Emily Haas Receives Flemming Award
NIOSH congratulates Dr. Emily Haas of the Pittsburgh Mining Research Division for receiving the 2017 Arthur S. Flemming Award for Social Science, Clinical Trials & Translational Researchexternal icon. Dr. Haas was recognized for her exemplary research and leadership that have directly contributed to preventing work-related illness and injury in the mining industry. The Arthur S. Flemming Awards acknowledge the outstanding men and women in the federal government.
Comment Now on New Draft NORA Agendas
- The public comment period for the draft National Occupational Research Agenda for Respiratory Health external iconhas been extended to July 13.
- The public comment period for the draft National Occupational Research Agenda for Healthcare and Social Assistanceexternal icon is open for public comment until August 20.
Final NORA Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing Agenda Available
The NORA AgFF Sector Council has finalized its research agenda after considering public comments and making revisions.
Upcoming NORA Council Meetings
- The AgFF Sector Council will have a web meeting on July 10 at 3 pm ET to discuss current and future work towards the implementation of research agenda priorities.
- The Transportation, Warehousing, and Utilities (TWU); Respiratory Health; and Cancer, Reproductive, Cardiovascular, and Other Chronic Disease Prevention councils are holding a joint virtual meeting on July 24, from 1–3:30 pm ET, on the value, challenges, and opportunities for medical claims analyses to advance the health of TWU workers.
- The Services Sector Council will meet July 25 and 26 to hear presentations about successful safety campaigns and safety issues facing contingent workers and to discuss potential future projects. Virtual participation is available.
To participate in NORA council meetings contact NORAcoordinator@cdc.gov.
Fifth International Fishing Industry Safety & Health (IFISH) Conference Recap
IFISH 5external icon was held June 10–13, in St. John’s, Newfoundland, and Labrador, Canada. NIOSH co-sponsored this conference which showcased over sixty hours of presentations, workshops, panels, and activities related to the latest in occupational safety and health research, explorations of current fisheries policy and regulations, and best practices for keeping workers safe and healthy. Key themes included topics on safety and health in commercial fishing, as well as occupational health and safety issues related to aquaculture and seafood processing. NIOSH Director of the Center for Maritime Safety and Health Studies, Dr. Jennifer M. Lincoln, served on the conference planning committee and delivered a keynote presentation titled “What I’ve Learned about Safety from Listening to Fishermen.” For more information email Jennifer M. Lincoln or call (509) 354-8065.
Michigan Work-related Farm Injury Surveillance Program
Michigan State University initiated a work-related farm injury surveillance program based on the review of medical records of hospitalization and emergency department records from 134 Michigan hospitals. The first reportpdf iconexternal icon, on 1,559 work-related farm injuries in 2015 and 2016, was released May 4. Highlights included findings that cows were the most common source of injury and that about 4% of the injuries were among children 15 years old or younger.
New Grant Funding Opportunities for Investigator-initiated Research and Mentored Research Scientist Development Awards
NIOSH recently published the following four new funding opportunities for its investigator initiated research and mentored research scientist development grants:
- OSH Research Grants (R01)external icon
- Small Research Grants (R03)external icon
- Exploratory/Developmental Grants (R21)external icon
- Mentored Research Scientist Development Grants (K01)external icon
Visit the NIOSH Extramural Research and Training Programs for more information.
Construction Worker Died after Falling 20–25 Feet from a Pump-jack Scaffold, Oregon
An owner of a siding company died from injuries sustained when he fell from a pump-jack scaffold platform, while installing siding. The owner was attempting to use a stepladder placed on top of the scaffold platform to access a high peak, and he fell onto concrete. The owner was taken to the hospital, and he died the next day.
Fire Fighter Suffers Cardiac Arrest while Driving Home from Fire Station after Responding to Motor Vehicle Accident–Illinois
A volunteer fire fighter responded to a motor vehicle incident as the driver of the engine. Upon returning to the station, the fire fighter told the fire chief that he was not feeling well and left the station. While driving home, the fire fighter lost consciousness, and his vehicle struck other vehicles. The fire fighter was transported to the hospital, where he later died.
Fire Chief Suffers Fatal Heart Attack at Vehicle Fire–Indiana
A volunteer fire chief responded to a truck fire and served as the Incident Commander. After the fire was knocked down, he collapsed. The chief was transported to the hospital, where he later died.
Evaluation of Exposures at a Flooring Manufacturing Facility
While air levels of various chemicals were low or undetectable, some production employees were twice as likely to report work-related irritation symptoms as other production employees. HHE Program investigators recommended ventilation improvements, employee PPE training, and consistently using skin protection and hand cleaner. Read the HHE reportexternal icon to learn more.
Evaluation of Metalworking Fluid Exposures at an Automotive Engine Machining Plant
Although airborne exposures were below occupational exposure limits, employees reported respiratory and nasal symptoms that were related to the use of compressed air, water spray, or coolant spray. HHE Program investigators recommended improving engineering controls, work practices, and communication; using gloves consistently; and encouraging employees to report work-related symptoms early. Read the HHE reportexternal icon to learn more.
- Make One Change for Safety This National Safety Month
- A Framework for Productive Aging and Work
- NIOSH in Alaska: Improving Worker Safety
- Workplace Medical Mystery: What is causing a recycling worker’s respiratory distress?
- Workplace Medical Mystery Solved: What is causing a recycling worker’s respiratory distress?
- Fentanyls and the Safety of First Responders: Science and Recommendations
Assessment of Occupational Injury among Fire Fighters Using a Follow-back Survey—New
The noticeexternal icon was posted on June 8. Written comments must be received within 30 days of notice.
World Trade Center Health Program Enrollment, Treatment, Appeals & Reimbursement—Revision
The noticeexternal icon was posted on May 11. Comments must be received by July 10.
Occupational Robotics Research Prioritization
The noticeexternal icon was posted on May 14. Comments must be received by July 13.
Draft National Occupational Research Agenda for Respiratory Health; Extension of Comment Period
The noticeexternal icon was posted on March 15. Comments must be received by July 13.
Generic Clearance for the Collection of Qualitative Feedback on Agency Service Delivery—Revision
The noticeexternal icon was posted on June 25. Written comments must be received within 30 days of notice.
Coal Workers’ Health Surveillance Program (CWHSP)—Extension
The noticeexternal icon was posted on June 25. Written comments must be received within 30 days of notice.
Solicitation of Nominations for Appointment to the Board of Scientific Counselors (BSC), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)
The noticeexternal icon was posted on June 6. Nominations for membership on the BSC must be received no later than August 1.
Request for the Technical Review of Three Draft Immediately Dangerous to Life or Health (IDLH) Value Profiles
The noticeexternal icon was posted on June 8. Electronic or written comments must be received by August 7.
Draft-National Occupational Research Agenda for Healthcare and Social Assistance
The noticeexternal icon was posted on June 21. Electronic or written comments must be received by August 20.
World Trade Center Health Program; Request for Nominations of Scientific Peer Reviewers of Proposed Additions to the List of WTC-related Health Conditions
The noticeexternal icon was posted on March 22, 2017. Nominations must be postmarked or submitted electronically by February 1, 2019.
2019 National HIV Prevention Conference
Deadline for abstract submissions is July 10.
Association of Occupational Health Nurses in Healthcareexternal icon
September 5–8, Glendale, AZ
National Conference on Health Communication, Marketing, and Media
September 11–13, Atlanta, Georgia
19th Conference of the International Society for Respiratory Protectionexternal icon
September 15–20, Denver, CO
National Occupational Injury Research Symposium 2018
October 16–18, Morgantown, WV
2019 National HIV Prevention Conference
March 18–21, 2019, Atlanta, GA
A comprehensive list of upcoming conferences is available on the NIOSH website.
In 1994, NIOSH warned of farming-related health risks, including organic dust toxic syndrome. At that time, little was known about this farming-related illness caused by breathing in dust from organic materials such as oats, wood chips, composted leaves, and grasses contaminated with animal matter, mold, pollen, and other substances. Symptoms include weakness, headache, fever, chills, body aches, cough, and shortness of breath. NIOSH recommended several preventive steps, including ventilating work areas and reducing spoilage, and using NIOSH-approved respirators if exposure is unavoidable.