Enhancing Partnerships between OSHA and State Public Health AgenciesWith the passage of the OSHAct in 1970, the lead responsibility for regulating workplace health and safety conditions was entrusted to federal OSHA and state labor departments. While regulatory agencies have the central role in protecting workers’ health, the enforcement of workplace health and safety regulations, compliance assistance, and worker training are only several components of a comprehensive approach to workplace health and safety. State public health agencies have critical and complementary roles to play in using data sources for surveillance of work-related diseases and injuries, applying epidemiologic skills to investigate occupational health problems in the community, working with the medical community to increase their involvement in workplace health and safety, and integrating worker health into other public health-based prevention activities. Public health agencies may play a particularly important role in addressing the occupational health needs of underserved worker populations, such as immigrant and minority workers, who comprise a significant proportion of our increasingly diverse workforce.
A 2010 Occupational Health Subcommittee meeting brought together representatives of state occupational public health programs and OSHA with the goal of increasing capacity to protect the health and safety of workers by improving collaboration between state occupational public health programs and OSHA at the national and regional/area/state levels. The meeting aimed to identify best practices, from both OSHA and public health perspectives, for public health referrals to OSHA; to identify OSHA’s unmet data needs that can be addressed by public health agencies (e.g., data for targeting, impact evaluation, and standard setting); and to explore opportunities for increased collaboration in conducting outreach and providing education and training to employers, workers, and health professionals.
Resources: Meeting AgendaPublic Health Referrals to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
For more information about the occupational health indicators, please contact Erin Simms. Click here to view other occupational health activities.
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