What is an occupational health indicator?
An occupational health indicator is a specific measure of a work-related disease or injury, or a factor associated with occupational health, such as workplace exposures, hazards, or interventions, in a specified population. Indicators can be generated by states to track trends in the occupational health status of the working population. Examples of occupational health indicators include counting the number of work-related deaths and work-related pesticide poisonings.
Why use occupational health indicators?
- Measure baseline health of worker populations
- Identify trends and patterns of work-related injury, illness, and death
- Anticipate early problem areas that deserve attention
- Reduce preventable workplace injuries
- Increase consistency and availability of occupational disease and injury surveillance data
Who generates occupational health indicators?
Several state public health or labor departments generate occupational health indicators. Since 2005, the Occupational Public Health Program in the Oregon Public Health Division has calculated occupational health indicators.
What occupational health indicators are generated?
Most state public health or labor departments calculate the 22 occupational health indicators listed below. Depending on the type of industries and jobs in a state and the availability of data, some states have developed additional indicators to better measure worker health in their state. At the current time, Oregon generates the 22 occupational health indicators listed below. Efforts are underway to develop and test other indicators.
Table 1. The 22 occupational health indicators
Occupational Illnesses and Injuries Combined
- Indicator 1: Non-fatal injuries and illnesses reported by employers
- Indicator 2: Work-related hospitalizations
Acute and Cumulative Occupational Injuries
- Indicator 3: Fatal work-related injuries
- Indicator 4: Amputations reported by employers
- Indicator 5: Amputations identified in state workers’ compensation systems
- Indicator 6: Hospitalizations for work-related burns
- Indicator 7: Musculoskeletal disorders reported by employers
- Indicator 8: Carpal tunnel syndrome cases identified in state workers’ compensation systems
- Indicator 9: Pneumoconiosis hospitalizations
- Indicator 10: Pneumoconiosis mortality
- Indicator 11: Acute work-related pesticide poisonings reported to poison control centers
- Indicator 12: Incidence of malignant mesothelioma
- Indicator 13: Elevated blood lead levels among adults
- Indicator 14: Workers employed in industries with high risk for occupational morbidity
- Indicator 15: Workers employed in occupations with high risk for occupational morbidity
- Indicator 16: Workers employed in industries and occupations with high risk for occupational mortality
Intervention Resources for Occupational Health
- Indicator 17: Occupational safety and health professionals
- Indicator 18: Occupational safety and health administration (OSHA) enforcement activities
Socioeconomic Impact of Occupational Illnesses and Injuries
- Indicator 19: Workers’ compensation awards
Cumulative Occupational Injury
- Indicator 20: Work-related low back disorder hospitalization
- **NEW** Indicator 21: Asthma among adults caused or made worse by work
- **NEW** Indicator 22: Work related severe traumatic injury hospitalizations
Putting Data to Work: Occupational Health
The Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE), in collaboration with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, developed a set of 19 occupational health indicators (OHIs). A workgroup of state CSTE representatives went through a multi-year process of defining these OHIs. Thirteen states then agreed to pilot the generation of data from 2000 for these 19 indicators. These data serve as a baseline, from which comparisons and trends over time can be tracked. There are now 22 indicators.