The Department of Health and Human Services launched Healthy People 2020 recently with a set of promotion and disease prevention objectives to improve the health of Americans. Included is a topic area dedicated to preventing diseases, injuries and deaths due to working conditions.
NIOSH announced these occupational safety and health objectives with target goals for each:
- Reduce deaths from work-related injuries. Target: 3.6 deaths per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers. Baseline: 4.0 in 2007.
- Reduce nonfatal work-related injuries. Target: 3.8 injuries per 100 full-time equivalent workers. Baseline: 4.2 in 2008.
- Reduce the rate of injury and illness cases involving days away from work due to overexertion or repetitive motion. Target: 26.64 injury and illness cases per 10,000 workers. Baseline: 29.6 in 2008.
- Reduce pneumoconiosis deaths. Target: 2,187 deaths. Baseline: 2,430 in 2005.
- Reduce deaths from work-related homicides. Target: 565 deaths. Baseline: 628 in 2007.
- Reduce work-related assaults. Target: 7.6 assaults per 10,000 full-time equivalent workers. Baseline: 8.4 assaults in 2007.
- Reduce the proportion of persons who have elevated blood lead concentrations from work exposures. Target: 20.2 persons per 100,000 employed adults. Baseline: 22.5 in 2008.
- Reduce occupational skin diseases or disorders among full-time workers. Target: 4.0 occupational skin diseases or disorders per 10,000 full-time workers. Baseline: 4.4 in 2008.
- Increase the proportion of employees who have access to workplace programs that prevent or reduce employee stress.
- Reduce new cases of work-related, noise-induced hearing loss. Target: 2.0 new cases per 10,000 workers. Baseline: 2.2 new cases in 2008.
Any illness or injury incurred by an employee engaged in work-related activities while on or off the work site are included in the plan.
NIOSH said tailored interventions are needed to address the diversity of risks for each industry. It pointed to the variety of size, sectors, designs, locations, work processes, cultures and resources in addition to the ages, genders, training, education, cultural backgrounds, health practices, and access to preventive health care among workers.
This diversity, NIOSH said, creates challenges for safety and health experts. For example, it noted that some workers -- such as racial and ethnic minorities, recent immigrants, younger and older workers, those with genetic susceptibility, and workers with disabilities -- are more likely to have increased risks of work-related diseases and injuries.
The changes in the way work is organized also create obstacles, including longer hours, compressed workweeks, shift work, reduced job security, and part-time and temporary work. Also, new chemicals, materials, processes and equipment pose emerging risks to occupational health.
"Despite these challenges, the nation is poised to make significant improvements over the coming decade in the quality of life for all working people," NIOSH said. "Ongoing research seeks to identify new and better ways to improve the health and safety of workers and to identify and address emerging hazards."
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
March 31, 2011
Copyright 2011© LRP Publications