Occupational Health Surveillance Program

What is Occupational Health Surveillance?

Occupational health surveillance provides information on where, how and why workers get sick or hurt on the job. This information is used to improve worker health and safety through appropriate prevention activities. Workplace injuries and illnesses can be prevented by control or elimination of hazards.

How Can Surveillance Lead to Prevention?

The New York State Department of Health is committed to the prevention of workplace injuries, illnesses and fatalities. Surveillance is conducted for a number of public health programs to identify occupational illnesses and then develop and provide outreach and prevention services.

The Occupational Health Surveillance program has epidemiologists, evaluators and outreach specialists that conduct the following activities:

  • Track patterns of work-related injury, illness and fatalities in order to quantify and describe the occupational disease burden in New York State.
  • Investigate and intervene in situations with an ongoing risk of exposure by referring cases to the Industrial Hygiene Consultation program for technical assistance.
  • Develop and implement interventions that will reduce the risk of exposures in the future.
  • Monitor both the immediate and long-term health effects of occupational exposure.
  • Educate the medical community about adverse health effects from occupational exposures.
  • Collaborate with partners to identify methods to modify work practices and share this information with companies that have similar exposures.

Additional Resources

  • Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists Occupational Health

    New York State Department of Health participates with the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists Occupational Health Work Group. This group has developed a series of occupational health indicators and meets to discuss broader occupational health issues encountered by state health departments.

  • National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Surveillance

    The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health is the federal agency responsible for conducting research and making recommendations for the prevention of work-related disease and injury. NIOSH supports a number of surveillance efforts involving public health practice by the New York State Department of Health.

  • New York State Department of Labor

    The New York State Department of Labor enforces state labor laws to ensure fair wages for all workers and protect the safety and health of workers and the public. They provide temporary financial assistance for the unemployed, and connect job seekers with employers.

  • Occupational Safety and Health Administration

    The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is the federal agency responsible for setting and enforcing standards; and providing training, outreach and education.

  • For more information on how to facilitate recognition of the relationship of work and health and how to address it through health information technology, visit the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s website

What Occupational Health Surveillance Activities are Conducted in New York State?

The Occupational Health Surveillance program oversees a number of registries and programs.

Occupational Health Indicators

Statewide and county-level occupational health indicators have been developed and can be used to describe the occupational health picture in New York State.

Work-Related Fatalities

The US Department of Labor sponsored Census for Occupational Injuries program is a data collection program while the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health sponsored Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation program conducts site visits and makes recommendations for preventing future injuries.

All Work-Related Injuries in New York State

Nearly 200 New Yorkers die every year because of a work-related injury. Additionally, injuries are consistently among the leading causes of work-related hospitalization for all age groups. More than 3,000 individuals are injured at work severely enough to require hospitalization annually. Another 100,000 New Yorkers are treated and released from an emergency department each year on average due to work-related injuries.

Work-related Injuries in New York State

The rate, per 100,000 FTE workers, of deaths due to work-related injury decreased from 2.4 in 2008 to 2.2 in 2009 and 2010, before gradually increasing to a high of 2.8 in 2014.

The rate, per 100,000 FTE workers, of hospitalizations due to work-related injury has steadily declined over the years. In 2008, the rate per 100,000 FTE workers of hospitalizations due to work-related injury was 48.2. Since then, it has gradually decreased to a low of 38.

The rate, per 100,000 FTE workers, of emergency department visits due to work-related injury has decreased overall, from 1349.8 in 2008 to 1101.9 in 2014.

The rate, per 100,000 FTE workers, of work-related deaths and hospitalizations is highest among older workers (65 years and older) while the rate of work-related emergency department visits is highest among the young workers (ages 15-19). Males are more likely than females to be injured or die at work. Work-related deaths are most likely to occur to White, Non-Hispanic workers, while the rate of work-related hospitalization is highest in Hispanic workers. Black, Non-Hispanics are most likely to have an injury at work that requires care at the emergency department.

The incidence of work-related injuries by county can be found at:

More detailed data on work-related injury surveillance statistics, including the leading causes of work-related emergency room visits, hospitalizations and deaths, and rates by county, can be found on the Injury Prevention Statistics webpage.

Occupational Health Registries

Part 22 of the State Sanitary Code requires three disease registries which collect information on any New York State resident or employee identified with certain diseases or exposures. Cases reported to the registries are interviewed to determine the source of exposure. Educational information is provided with each interview.

  • Heavy Metals Registry

    Laboratories and health care providers are required to report all blood lead results performed on New York State residents and employees, along with reportable levels of mercury, arsenic and cadmium.

  • Pesticide Poisoning Registry

    Health care providers and clinical laboratories are required to report all pesticide poisonings occurring in New York State.

  • Occupational Lung Disease Registry

    Health care providers are required to report all occupational lung diseases occurring in New York State. Occupational lung diseases include, but are not limited to: asbestosis, silicosis, work-related asthma, and hypersensitivity pneumonitis.

New York State Occupational Health Clinic Network

The network of occupational health clinics assist workers and employers in New York State by appropriately diagnosing occupational diseases, helping workers return to work quickly and safely, and by providing training and education. The Clinics are also a resource for health care providers treating patients with potential work-related illnesses. The clinics are located through the State and are available to all workers, retirees and residents in New York State. No patient is turned away because of an inability to pay.