Millions of occupational illnesses and injuries occur each year in the US, yet the human and economic impact of these events is inadequately studied and understood. Improved information about these is crucial both to setting priorities for an occupational safety and health research agenda and for developing broader policies aimed at prevention of disease, injury, and disability. Occupational injuries and diseases affect workers themselves, but they also impose significant burdens on workers' families, employers, and the larger community. As Dembe writes in this issue: "An injury or illness, whether caused occupationally or not, can represent a significant life event, becoming part of a person's individual identity and approach to daily existence. An injury or illness thus potentially affects every aspect of life: the pursuit of a career, leisure activities, religious orientation and practice, personal and group relationships, family responsibilities, involvement in political activities, and so forth'' [Dembe, 2001]. The ripples from these events reach all of us.
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