Status of Work-Related Diseases in Wisconsin: Five Occupational Health Indicators

Wisconsin Medical Journal. 2006 Mar;105(2):26-31. [Link] [PDF Full Text]

Islam KM, Anderson HA.

Wisconsin Division of Public Health, Bureau of Environmental and Occupational Health, Madison, WI 53702, USA.


Direct and indirect costs of work-related injuries and illnesses in the United States are estimated to cost over $170 billion annually. Wisconsin’s costs alone may be as high as $1 billion annually. Considering the magnitude of these costs, it is disconcerting that there is no national surveillance program to track the occupational injuries, illnesses, and hazards responsible. Surveillance is an essential public health function and the foundation for recognizing and then designing and evaluating interventions to reduce the consequences of identified hazards. Wisconsin has a rudimentary occupational injury and illness surveillance program. It has recently been strengthened by receipt of a 3-year fundamental surveillance grant from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). As part of that grant, Wisconsin will begin tracking 19 NIOSH occupational health indicators. In this paper we measured 5 occupational health indicators for Wisconsin: Pneumoconiosis hospitalizations, Pneumoconiosis mortality, Acute work-related pesticide poisonings, Incidence of malignant mesothelioma, and Elevated blood lead levels among adults. Year 2000 baseline results of these 5 occupational disease indicators show that Wisconsin has lower disease rates than the nation for some of the indicators and higher rates for others. Such surveillance data informs the understanding of environmental and other important risk factors for occupational diseases and injuries.