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Putting data to work: occupational health indicators for Massachusetts.

Massachusetts Department of Public Health
Boston, MA: Massachusetts Department of Public Health, 2013 Jan; :1-12
More than three million individuals work in Massachusetts in over 200,000 workplaces. These workers drive our economy from the expanding sectors of biotechnology and health care to the traditional jobs in fishing and construction. While work is fundamental to well being, working conditions can also negatively effect health. This is most obvious in jobs such as construction where many dangers are well recognized, but exposure to chemicals, chronic wear and tear, and stress at work can also take a toll. Each year, thousands of Massachusetts workers are injured on the job or become ill as a result of exposure to health and safety hazards at work. These work-related health conditions result in substantial human and economic costs not only for workers and employers but also for society at large. Workers' compensation claims alone in Massachusetts cost approximately $950 million in 2009 and there is increasing evidence that for many individuals with work-related injuries or illnesses, workers' compensation insurance does not pay for their medical care. Work-related injuries and illnesses can be prevented. Successful approaches to making the workplace safer begin with having the data necessary to understand the problems. In 2003, the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE) recommended a set of occupational health indicators for use by the states. These indicators are a set of common public health surveillance measures that allow states to uniformly collect and report available occupational illness, injury and risk data. Computed over time, these indicators allow states to track trends in the occupational health status of the working population and guide efforts to prevent work-related injuries and illnesses. In this brief report, we present a profile of the Massachusetts workforce and sixteen occupational health indicators for the Commonwealth based on the most recent data available for each indicator. Whenever possible, we also present national data and information by race and ethnicity. For the second year, we have added two state specific indicators: numbers and rates of sharps injuries among hospital workers and work-related injuries to teens treated in emergency departments. The information used to generate these indicators is gathered from a variety of existing state data sources - as no single data source is adequate to describe occupational health problems in the state. Combining information from multiple sources into a single document provides a composite picture of the occupational health status of working people in Massachusetts. Given the limitations of the data sources currently available to capture work-related health conditions in Massachusetts, most of the indicators in this report are believed to be conservative - i.e. tend to underestimate the extent of the problem. Technical notes and a description of the data sources, including the limitations of each of the data sources used in generating these indicators are included at the end of the report. A detailed description of the methodology for generating these indicators is available in "Occupational Health Indicators: A Guide for Tracking Work-Related Health Effects and their Determinants."
Injuries; Injury-prevention; Health-care; Medical-care; Health-standards; Public-health; Occupational-health; Diseases; Disease-prevention; Surveillance-programs; Data-processing; Risk-factors; Information-processing; Information-systems; Standards; Emergency-care; Emergency-treatment; Needlestick-injuries; Demographic-characteristics; Statistical-analysis; Lost-work-days; Worker-health
Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Occupational Health Surveillance Program, 250 Washington Street, 6th Floor, Boston, MA 02108
Publication Date
Document Type
Funding Type
Cooperative Agreement
Fiscal Year
Identifying No.
Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U60-OH-008490; B20130520
Source Name
Putting data to work: occupational health indicators for Massachusetts
Performing Organization
Massachusetts State Department of Public Health
Page last reviewed: March 25, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division