State-based Occupational Safety and Health Surveillance

How did NIOSH find out that cases of coal workers' pneumoconiosis (black lung) were on the rise after years of decline? The answer: state-based occupational health surveillance. Occupational health surveillance, which is the tracking of occupational injuries, illnesses, hazards and exposures for the purposes of improving worker safety and health and monitoring trends and progress over time, plays a vital role in worker protection. Surveillance data are used by the safety and health community to inform real-world safety and health prevention efforts and focus resources to protect workers. In 1995, when data showed an increase in CWP, NIOSH and others responded with increased prevention efforts to combat this debilitating disease. Given its significance, Dr. Tom Frieden, Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has designated enhancing public health surveillance as a priority agency objective.

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