Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, U60-OH-008463, 2008 Sep; :1-29
The State of Connecticut Department of Public Health's (CT DPH) Occupational Health Unit was funded by NIOSH for the Connecticut Occupational Health Expanded Surveillance Project, from 07/01/2005 through 06/30/2008. The specific aims for this project built on the foundation of existing occupational health surveillance, and also included new ideas to enhance existing surveillance capacity in Connecticut. Success was measured on the ability to both meet the objectives outlined in the specific aims and to build and expand those aims throughout the funding period to create the greatest public health impact possible with the awarded resources. Project staff were successful in completing all aspects of the outlined specific aims during the three-year project period. For Specific Aim 1: Continuing Longitudinal Analysis of Occupational Disease Underreporting in Connecticut Through Comparison of Existing Data Sources, longitudinal analysis was completed for years 2003 through 2005, in collaboration with our partners at the University of Connecticut Health Center's Department of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (DOEM). This data analysis allowed CT DPH and its partners to better understand the scope of occupational disease underreporting in Connecticut. In 2008, CT DPH worked with a software developer and began the preliminary planning and development of an electronic diseases reporting system to replace the traditional paper occupational disease reporting forms currently used. This new electronic disease reporting system is in its final stages of production and will be piloted in CT occupational health clinics in late 2008. Specific Aim 2: Continuing Longitudinal Analysis of the Occupational Health Indicators for Connecticut broadened into an expanded project to further the utility of the indicators. Program staff compiled the Occupational Health Indicators for years 2003 through 2005, and presently Connecticut has a six-year data set that is published to the web in the form of a web-based report. This web report, developed in 2007, will continue to be updated annually with the most current data. This report was sent to our regional partners and stakeholders in Connecticut for their use and adoption for similar projects. In addition, Connecticut expanded its analysis for Indicator #1 Non-Fatal Work-Related Illnesses and Injuries Reported by Employers into a retrospective study analyzing data as far back as 1974 to examine trends in injury and illness rates. Specific Aim 3, has made progress over the funding period. We continued our survey and contact protocol for work-related asthma and mercury as part of Specific Aim 3: Expanding Surveillance Activities for Work-Related Carbon Monoxide Poisoning and Mercury Poisoning and Continuing Expanded Surveillance Activities for Occupational Asthma. Asthma surveys were delayed during 2007 and early 2008, due to the loss of program staff who worked specifically on this survey tool. Due to a very low response rate to carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning surveys (5% during 2005 and 2006), we are no longer sending out surveys for each reported CO case. This change was implemented in spring 2006, because of the lack of return on the resources expended in sending the surveys. Instead, CO follow-up will be limited to those cases where a known occupational exposure has occurred. Mercury surveys have been continuously mailed from 2005 through 2008. Throughout this time period, CT DPH collected 422 mercury reports. Of those, 169 were >_ 1.5 ug/dL of whole blood and 28 were >_ 3.0 ug/dL. The CT DPH Occupational Health Unit sent out 30 patient surveys from 2005 through 2008, and received 10 surveys back. Initially, progress on Specific Aim 4, broadening the representation and scope of duties for the Connecticut Occupational Health Advisory Group was delayed due to problems with the contracting process. Presently, there has been considerable progress toward this project goal. All appropriate advisory group members were solicited and organized to formulate the network. Meetings were held quarterly to gain insight from members on occupational health priorities; and a draft report was published in June 2008. Currently all input from the planning network has been compiled into a final recommendations report that will be published in September 2008, with delivery to key stakeholders shortly thereafter. Regional Collaboration has been a priority during the past funding period because of the importance of developing partnerships with our counterparts in other states. Under specific aim 5, Maintaining Regional Collaboration with Occupational Health Partners from the Other Northeast States on Specific Surveillance Activities, Including Expanded Analysis of Selected Occupational Health Indicators; we have made great progress and developed an excellent working relationship with other Northeast states on collaborative surveillance data analysis projects. Connecticut organized a regional project examining Occupational Health Indicator #6: Work-Related burn hospitalizations. Connecticut worked with occupational health surveillance partners from New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts to determine what regional differences existed among these states with regards to demographics and hospitalization charges for workers who experience work-related burn hospitalizations. Connecticut is presently working with these three states to finalize the project and draft a publication detailing the study's findings. In addition, Connecticut has utilized a small portion of the NIOSH funding to convene the Northeast States Regional Surveillance Meeting for 2006 through 2008. This meeting has been a way to bring together all occupational health surveillance partners from throughout the Northeast States, as well as Federal partners from NIOSH to discuss various health topics of interest to our states. In 2006, the CT DPH Occupational Health Unit partnered with UConn DOEM to develop the Connecticut Nail Salon Work Group. This work group was designed with the goal of developing a pilot project to determine the knowledge, attitudes, and practices of Vietnamese-owned nail salon employees in Connecticut's Hartford County, and also provide outreach and educational materials to nail salon workers. CT DPH partnered with Asian Family Services, Inc., a social service organization in Hartford, CT to interview representatives from 28 nail salons on demographics, chemical exposures, ergonomics, and symptoms that may have been caused by their work environment. The survey data showed these nail salon workers experienced long working hours, poorly designed workstations, and inadequate engineering controls at many of the nail salons. Project funding has also allowed program staff to develop educational materials in the form of Connecticut Occupational Health Alerts. These publications replaced the Connecticut Occupational Health e-News (Cohen) in 2006. These alerts differ from the COHeN because they are directed at a targeted audience as opposed to a publication intended for broader education. Program staff utilized existing resources and developed new partnerships to get these materials to their target audiences. One example was sending our Health Alert " Preventing Carbon Monoxide Poisoning While Using Gas-Powered Tools Indoors" in 2007 to all construction contractors that were members of the Connecticut Construction Industries Association (CCIA). The CCIA now has a working relationship with CT DPH and is willing to send out any new educational materials through their monthly newsletter to over 600 of their members.
Thomas E. St. Louis, Principal Investigator/ Program Director, State of Connecticut, Department of Public Health, Occupational Health Unit, 410 Capitol Avenue, MS# 11 EOH, Hartford, CT 06134