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Characterizing the Burden of Occupational Injury and Disease

Schulte, Paul A. PhD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: June 2005 - Volume 47 - Issue 6 - p 607-622
doi: 10.1097/01.jom.0000165086.25595.9d
Original Articles

Objectives: To review the literature on the burden of occupational disease and injury and to provide a comprehensive characterization of the burden.

Methods: The scientific and governmental literature from 1990 to the present was searched and evaluated. Thirty-eight studies illustrative of the burden of occupational disease were reviewed for findings, methodology, strengths, and limitations.

Results: Recent U.S. estimates of occupational mortality and morbidity include approximately 55,000 deaths (eighth leading cause) and 3.8 million disabling injuries per year, respectively. Comprehensive estimates of U.S. costs related to these burdens range between $128 billion and $155 billion per year. Despite these significant indicators, occupational morbidity, mortality, and risks are not well characterized in comparative burden assessments.

Conclusions: The magnitude of occupational disease and injury burden is significant but underestimated. There is a need for an integrated approach to address these underestimates.

From the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Cincinnati, Ohio.

The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

Address correspondence to: Paul A. Schulte, PhD, NIOSH, MS-C14, 4676 Columbia Pkwy., Cincinnati, OH 45226; E-mail:

©2005The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine