|Finding Help from Government Sources?? NIOSH has information available about Chemicals and Chemical Exposures? NIOSH 800-number (1-800-356-4674): The NIOSH 800-number provides workers, employers, university researchers, labor organizations, industrial organizations, and government agencies with information specific to their occupational health or safety problems.|
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is the only Federal agency that conducts research, trains professionals, and develops innovative solutions to occupational safety and health problems. As part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), NIOSH operates programs in every State to improve the safety and health of workers. The Institute responds directly to requests for assistance from businesses, workers, and State agencies. NIOSH also supports a wide variety of research, training, and outreach projects.
On a typical day, 154 U.S. workers die from work-related disease or injury, and an additional 9,000 workers are disabled. In 1993, the National Safety Council estimated that for injuries alone, medical costs and losses of productivity and wages totaled $112 billion. This toll on U.S. health and productivity is largely preventablebut not without investing in the science needed to identify causes and develop solutions to this national problem.
From 1980 to 1989, about 183 North Carolina workers died each year as a result of workplace injury. The average annual rate of workplace fatalities in North Carolina was 7.0 per 100,000 workers, which was the same as the national average. The mining and construction industries had the highest fatality rate (35 and 27 per 100,000 workers). Between 1968 and 1991, 797 North Carolina workers died from dust-related lung disease. For 1989-90, more North Carolina workers died of byssinosis (brown lung disease) than in any other State. In the same time period, North Carolina had the 8th largest number of deaths from mesothelioma (a type of cancer caused by asbestos) and ranked 4th in mesothelioma-associated years of potential life lost to age 65.
In 1993, 136,160 claims were filed for workers' compensation in North Carolina, primarily for nonfatal injuries. In 1991, workers' compensation payments cost North Carolina businesses approximately $545 million; however, this figure underestimates the total burden, since only about 60% of injured workers receive workers' compensation. In addition, the costs for most chronic occupational illnesses (such as occupational cancers) are not covered. These costs are estimated to exceed $5.4 billion for the U.S. and are paid by Medicare, Medicaid, public and private disability insurance, and victims and their families. Total annual costs for work injury and disease in North Carolina probably exceed $918 million, not including the full costs of lost industrial productivity. The State also spends $5.1 million to administer workers' compensation.
Helping solve workplace problems: NIOSH evaluates workplace hazards and recommends solutions when requested by employers, workers, or State or federal agencies. Since 1980, NIOSH has responded to 77 requests from North Carolina workplaces ranging from pork processing facilities to aluminum foundries. NIOSH has investigated exposures to formaldehyde among textile workers, dust and ammonia exposures on poultry farms, and musculoskeletal problems among poultry processing workers.
In 1993, NIOSH researchers were asked to investigate a pork processing plant where a medical evaluation determined workers were experiencing an outbreak of brucellosis (an infectious disease transmitted by farm animals). NIOSH recommendations reduced the workers' risk of infection. This NIOSH hazard evaluation contributed to a 1994 U.S. Department of Agriculture ruling that enabled swine producers to receive payment at fair market value for infected herds. The ruling ensured workers would not continue to be exposed to brucellosis-infected swine, decreasing work-related infectious disease.
Building State worker safety and health capacity: NIOSH funds the North Carolina Department of Environment, Health, and Natural Resources to track and respond to cases of silicosis (a disabling, potentially fatal occupational lung disease) and cases of excessive lead exposure among adults (which can cause infertility and damage the kidneys and nervous system). NIOSH is also collaborating with the Department to identify excess worker mortality risks. Records of 54,000 North Carolina workers are part of a database being used by researchers at NIOSH and the National Cancer Institute to study work-related bladder, lung, breast, and esophageal cancers.
Promoting health and safety in agriculture: Farming is one of the most hazardous occupations for fatal work injuries. Farmers are also at high risk for nonfatal injuries, work-related lung diseases, noise-induced hearing loss, skin diseases, and certain cancers associated with chemical use and prolonged sun exposure. Farming is one of the few industries in which families, who share in the work and live on the premises, are also at risk for injuries, illness, and death.
In 1993, North Carolina farms had an estimated 2,129 disabling injuries. These injuries resulted in an estimated 30,726 lost workdays for North Carolina farmers and farm workers. To address this problem, in 1994, NIOSH began an effort in six North Carolina agriculture extension districts to reduce farm injuries and illnesses on small farms. NIOSH developed curricula for the North Carolina State University Colleges of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine. As a result, 250 North Carolina extension agents have been trained in agricultural safety and health. Through statewide, regional, and local outreach programs, NIOSH has provided numerous North Carolina farm families with training and resources on first aid, emergency preparedness, hazard assessment, and prevention of farm injuries.
Providing research and training: Between 1990 and 1994, North Carolina received $9.7 million in extramural research and training funds. NIOSH supports research grants to Duke University (occupational respiratory diseases, neurotoxic disorders), the University of North Carolina (musculoskeletal injuries, mortality from exposure to radiation, ventilation methods, occupational asthma, TB transmission), North Carolina State University (ionizing radiation, chemical exposure, and cancer), and the Research Triangle Institute (pregnancy outcomes in women using video displays).
In addition, training grants have been given to the University of North Carolina, North Carolina State University, Duke University, East Carolina University, St. Augustine, and North Carolina Agriculture and Technology State University.
NIOSH 800-number (1-800-356-4674): The NIOSH 800-number provides workers, employers, university researchers, labor organizations, industrial organizations, and government agencies with information specific to their occupational health or safety problems. No comparable service exists in the United States. The total number of calls received on the 800-number increased more than tenfold between 1988 and 1993, with calls from North Carolina increasing from 60 to 914 per year. NIOSH provides assistance to an average of 4 callers per workday from North Carolina.
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Department of Health and Human Services
200 Independence Ave SW 317B
Washington, DC 20201
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