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National Academies call on NIOSH, OSHA and BLS to create ‘smarter’ injury surveillance system

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Washington — NIOSH, OSHA and the Bureau of Labor Statistics should team up to enhance occupational safety and health surveillance programs, a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine states.

“We are experiencing rapid changes in the nature of work, and with new risks developing, the nation is in dire need of a smarter surveillance system that tracks occupational injuries, illnesses and exposures,” Edward Shortliffe, Arizona State University professor of biomedical informatics and chair of the report committee, said in a Jan. 9 press release.

The report is the result of a yearlong study conducted at the request of the three agencies. It lists 17 specific recommendations for NIOSH to collaborate with OSHA, BLS and states to create “a collaborative system of systems” to “strengthen the ongoing coordination and data sharing across federal agencies, between federal and state agencies, across state agencies (e.g., labor and health), and with employers and workers to result in the maximum possible engagement of all.”

According to the report, work-related injuries, illnesses and deaths cost about $250 million annually in the United States. The report points out that data collection primarily emphasizes health outcomes, with less focus applied to hazard and exposure information. It recommends that the agencies employ advanced analytical technology to strengthen surveillance efforts while organizing education and training efforts.

“Ensuring and improving worker safety and health is a serious commitment, and federal and state agencies, along with other stakeholders, should diligently act upon it,” Shortliffe said.

Scott Mugno, FedEx executive and President Donald Trump’s nominee to head OSHA, is among the 11 people listed as members of the report committee.

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