Occupational Health and Safety Surveillance Program
Public health surveillance is one of the critical components of public health and is defined as the ongoing, systematic collection, analysis, and interpretation of data essential to the planning, implementation, and evaluation of public health practice. Despite the enormous toll of work-related injuries and illnesses in the U.S., systematic and ongoing occupational health surveillance has not been widely implemented among state health agencies.
A strategic goal of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is to strengthen the capacity of state health departments to conduct occupational surveillance and related prevention activities. In 2010, Minnesota became one of 23 states funded by NIOSH to promote surveillance of occupational safety and health. The Minnesota Occupational Health and Safety Surveillance Program greatly expands the capacity of the Minnesota Department of Health to promote occupational health and safety through surveillance of a core set of occupational health indicators and dissemination of the findings to appropriate stakeholders for use in setting priorities for education and prevention activities.
Along with these surveillance activities and the creation and dissemination of 20 indicators of occupational health and safety, the Program is also utilizing federal and state resources to undertake additional initiatives to promote occupational health and safety in Minnesota. Among these initiatives are (1) updating the Work Safe Work Smart curriculum, previously developed and evaluated by MDH with NIOSH support; (2) addressing occupational respiratory disease through collaboration with the MDH Asthma Program and University of Minnesota School of Public Health; and (3) evaluating the usefulness and feasibility of occupational disease and exposure reporting systems.