There were over 4,000 work-related hospitalizations per year.
A total of 1,004 workers died from fatal injuries.
A total of 684 hospitalizations were due to work-related burns.
90% of pneumoconiosis hospitalizations were due to exposure to asbestos and asbestosis was the leading cause of mortality from or with pneumoconiosis (92%).
New Jersey annual death rates from malignant mesothelioma (13.0-21.8 cases/million residents) were higher than US rates (12.5-14.0 cases/million residents).
Annual total workers’ compensation benefits paid exceeded one billion dollars. The average workers’ compensation award paid per worker was $393.
Successful approaches to making our New Jersey workplaces healthier and safer begin by collecting the information necessary to understand the problem. Occupational Health Indicators (OHIs) provide a snapshot of the health of New Jersey workers and can be used by public health officials to track work-related adverse health effects and their causes.
The New Jersey OHI data are formatted and calculated based on the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) guide “Occupational Health Indicators: A Guide for Tracking Occupational Health Conditions and their Determinants.” New Jersey is a member of the NIOSH-States Occupational Health Surveillance Work Group. To date, the Work Group has defined a standard set of 20 OHIs that can be used to identify occupational injuries, illnesses, and factors in each state. Indicators for participating states are featured on the CSTE Web site.
NOTE TO USERS: Except where otherwise noted, the New Jersey data presented on this Web page are for the period 2000-2008 including corresponding U.S. figures and will be updated annually. Following the state employment profile is a set of 17 occupational health indicators for New Jersey. Each indicator contains a brief background followed by tables and graphs based on most recent available information. Please contact the Occupational Health Surveillance Unit if you have any questions.
Percentage of Workers Employed in Industries at High Risk for Occupational Morbidity
Injuries and illnesses that are work-related can be prevented and the most effective way to prevent injuries and illness is to control the occupational hazards. To help prioritize limited resources it is vital to concentrate on high risk industries for non-fatal injuries and illnesses. From 2000-2008, over a million workers were employed in industries at high risk for occupational morbidity in New Jersey. In 2000, there were 132,690 workers employed in industries with a high risk for occupational morbidity, which is 3% of the New Jersey workforce. Whereas, in 2008, there were 194,576 (5%) workers employed in industries with a high risk for occupational morbidity.
Data were obtained from the US Census Bureau County Business Patterns and based on employed persons aged 16 years and older, in private sector industries at high risk for occupational morbidity for the same calendar year.
Percentage of Workers Employed in Occupations at High Risk for Occupational Morbidity
Injuries and illnesses that are work-related can be prevented and the most effective way to prevent injuries and illness is to control the occupational hazards. To help prioritize limited resources it is vital to concentrate on high-risk occupations for non-fatal injuries and illnesses. In New Jersey, the number of workers employed in occupations at high risk for occupational morbidity has increased from 197,938 in 2000 to 432,581 in 2008. The percentage of workers in New Jersey is lower than the US. The percentage of workers in New Jersey from 2000-2008 ranged from 4.9-10.1 in comparison to the US which ranged from 6.3-16.1.
Data were obtained from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics Current Population Survey and are based on employed persons aged 16 years and older, in private sector occupations at high risk for occupational morbidity for the same calendar year.
Percentage of Workers Employed in Industries and Occupations at High Risk for Occupational Mortality
Occupational injuries are largely preventable, and ongoing surveillance of occupational fatalities can help public health and other governmental agencies track and prevent future work-related injuries. A fatal injury is considered work-related if the event leading to the injury occurred while the employee was working, either on or off the employer’s premises. The percentage of workers employed in industries and occupations at high risk for occupational mortality has increased from 2000-2008 for both New Jersey and the US.
In 2008, there were over 450,000 workers employed in industries and occupations at high risk for occupational mortality in New Jersey, which is 11% of the employed population.
Data were obtained from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics Current Population Survey and based on employed persons aged 16 years and older, in private industries for the same calendar year.
Nonfatal Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses Reported by Employers
Even though work-related injuries and illnesses are preventable, thousands of workers are injured every day in the US. In New Jersey, there has been over a million nonfatal work-related injuries and illnesses reported by private sector employers from 2000-2008. New Jersey annual incidence rates decreased from 4,900 in 2000 to 3,200 in 2008. In addition, there were over 150,000 estimated cases involving more than 10 days away from work. Nonfatal work-related injuries occurred more frequently in service-providing industries and transportation and material moving occupations. The back and finger were the parts of the body that were most affected and sprains and strains were the most common nature of injury or illness.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) conducts annually a Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (SOII) to establish an estimate of occupational injuries and illnesses in participating states. The Survey includes employed persons in New Jersey who are 16 years or older for the same calendar year but exclude out-of-state residents. The Survey also excludes the military, self-employed individuals, farms with fewer than 11 employees, and Federal agencies. The Survey does have its limitations and underestimates and there is evidence of underreporting of injuries by employers.
An amputation has been described as a full or partial loss of a protruding body part – arm, hand, finger, leg, foot, toe, ear, or nose. Besides affecting an individual’s overall quality of life, an individual’s job skills and prospective earnings can be significantly decreased. In New Jersey, the rate of work-related amputations has decreased from 11.0 amputations per 100,000 full-time employees in 2000 to 7.0 amputations per 100,000 full-time employees in 2008.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) annual Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (SOII) samples employers nationwide to provide a yearly state and national estimate on work-related amputations that involve at least one day away from work. The data collected below include employed persons in New Jersey age 16 years or older in the same calendar year. The data exclude individuals with injuries that required an amputation at a later date.
Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are some of the most common and preventable work-related health injuries. MSDs are injuries or disorders of the muscles, tendons, nerves, ligaments, joints, or spinal discs that are caused by or aggravated by work activities. Of the 102,618 cases of MSDs reported in New Jersey from 2000-2008, 47% (48,513) were MSDs of the back; 26% were MSDs of the neck, shoulders, and upper extremities; and 2% were carpel tunnel syndrome.
Data for this indicator are collected through the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) annual Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (SOII).
Malignant mesothelioma is a rare but highly fatal cancer of the thin membranes surrounding the chest cavity (pleura) or abdominal cavity (peritoneum). According to the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries, about 3,000 deaths occur each year in the US due to malignant mesothelioma. From 2000-2008, New Jersey annual rates (13.0-21.8 cases/million residents) were higher than US rates (12.5-14.0 cases/million residents). Exposure to asbestos fibers is a well-established risk factor for mesothelioma. As previously mentioned, there were over 14,000 hospitalizations due to asbestosis from 2000-2008 and New Jersey annual rates were higher than US rates.
Data were obtained from the New Jersey State Cancer Registry for the employed New Jersey population 15 years and older for the same calendar year. Due to the long latency of the disease, current incidence may not be indicative of current exposure.
In the US, over 5,000 individuals have been involved in a fatal work-related injury per year since 2000. In New Jersey, there have been 1,004 fatal occupational injuries from 2000-2008. New Jersey annual rates for 2000-2008 ranged from 2.1-3.2 fatalities/100,000 employed persons which is lower than the US rate which ranges from 3.8-4.4 fatalities/100,000 employed persons.
A fatal injury is considered work-related if the event leading to the injury occurred while the employee was working either on or off the employer’s premises. This includes private and government employees; self-employed persons; certain volunteers such as firefighters and law enforcement; and individuals traveling as a condition of employment (not commuting to and from work). Data are obtained from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) which counts and describes all fatal work-related injuries in the US. Data include individuals who are 16 years or older for the same calendar year.
Pneumoconiosis is a class of non-malignant lung diseases which are usually incurable and may lead to death. Pneumoconiosis includes silicosis, asbestosis, coal workers’ pneumoconiosis, and other and unspecified pneumoconiosis. In New Jersey, asbestosis resulted in the greatest number of deaths, over 600 from 2000-2008. Silicosis, coal workers’ pneumoconiosis, and other and unspecified pneumoconiosis had less than five cases and therefore rates could not be accurately calculated.
Death certificates were obtained from the NJDOH Center for Health Statistics for individuals 15 years or older with ICD-10 code of J60 – J66.8 as the underlying or contributing cause of death for the same calendar year.
Individuals hospitalized with work-related injuries and illnesses have some of the most serious and costly work-related health outcomes. In New Jersey alone there have been over 40,000 work-related hospitalizations from 2000-2008. In 2008, there were 4,451 work-related hospitalizations in New Jersey. Of these 3,371 (76%) were male and the average age was 46 (±13.1). Over 3,000 (71%) were White; 497 (11%) were Black; and over 700 (17%) were of Hispanic origin.
Data for work-related hospitalizations were pulled from the New Jersey inpatient hospital discharge data and were based on workers’ compensation as primary payer and individuals who are 16 years or older for the same calendar year. Individuals who were out of state residents or out of state hospitalizations were excluded. Due to other payer sources or individuals not filing for workers’ compensation, work-related hospitalizations may be underrepresented.
Burns can be the most expensive work-related injuries to treat, result in large amounts of lost work time, and can be extremely painful. In New Jersey, there have been over 600 work-related burn hospitalizations from 2000-2008.
In 2008, there were a total of 56 work-related hospitalizations. Of these cases 30% of the burns were to the face, head, and neck, followed by lower limb(s) (27%), and upper limb, except wrist and hand (20%). Demographics information was available for 52 cases and showed that 93% were male and the average age was 36 (±11.8). Forty-three (77%) were White; 4 (7%) were Black; and 15 (27%) were of Hispanic origin. In 2008 there were 56 reported cases of work-related burns, of these cases 30% of the burns were to the face, head, and neck, followed by lower limb(s) (27%), and upper limb, except wrist and hand (20%).
Data for work-related hospitalizations (ICD-9: 940-949) were pulled from New Jersey inpatient hospital discharge data and were based on workers’ compensation as primary payer and individuals who are 16 years or older for the same calendar year. Individuals who were out-of-state residents or out-of-state hospitalizations were excluded.
Most cases of pneumoconiosis are diagnosed in older individuals, are often incurable and may result in death. There have been over 16,000 cases of pneumoconiosis in New Jersey from 2000-2008. Of these cases over 14,000 were asbestosis. The annual rate of asbestosis from 2000-2008 in New Jersey (191-277 hospitalizations/million residents) is higher than the US (60-103 hospitalizations/million residents). Rates of asbestosis in New Jersey may be higher because the production of asbestos products and use of asbestos, especially in New Jersey’s many shipyards were extensive in the state. Several New Jersey studies have documented excess lung cancer among New Jersey workers in industries with asbestos exposure, including New Jersey’s most well-known asbestos products manufacturer, the Manville Corporation in Somerset County. The NJDOH has estimated that as many as 500,000 New Jersey workers may have been exposed since 1940.
In 2008, there were 1,748 hospitalizations due to pneumoconiosis. The mean age was 78 (± 9.2) and 1,609 (92%) were male. Of these cases 1,539 (88%) were White; 116 (6%) were Black; and 48 (3%) were of Hispanic origin.
Data for work-related pneumoconiosis hospitalizations (ICD-9: 940-949) were pulled from New Jersey inpatient hospital discharge data and were based on workers’ compensation as primary payer and individuals who are 15 years or older for the same calendar year.
Hospitalizations for Work-Related Lower Back Disorders (indicator under development)
Hospitalizations for work-related low back disorders have serious and costly effects including: high direct medical costs, significant functional impairment and disability, high absenteeism, reduced work performance, and lost productivity. Well-recognized prevention efforts can be implemented for high-risk job activities and reduce the burden of work-related low back disorders.
Acute Work-Related Pesticide Poisonings Reported to Poison Control Centers
Pesticides are among the few chemicals produced that are specifically designed to kill and cause harm. Workers (agricultural and pesticide applicators) who handle pesticides are at greatest risk for pesticide poisoning. The EPA estimates that there are 20,000 to 40,000 work-related pesticide poisonings per year. In New Jersey, there were over 2,000 cases of pesticide-associated illnesses reported per year from 2000-2008. New Jersey annual rates for 2000-2008 were below the US rates. New Jersey ranged from 0.8-1.3 pesticide poisonings/100,000 employed persons in comparison to US rates of 1.5-2.1 pesticide poisonings/100,000 employed persons.
Data for work-related pesticide-associated illness and injury were obtained from the New Jersey Poison Control Center. Data were also pulled from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Current Population Survey and were based on employed persons 16 years and older for the same calendar year.
Lead poisoning usually occurs as a result of occupational exposure and can affect multiple organ systems and lead to permanent damage. Anemia, nervous system dysfunction, and kidney damage may result from lead exposure. Workers can be exposed to lead through inhalation of fumes and dusts and through ingestion due to lead contaminated hands, food, clothing, etc. In adults, a blood lead level (BLL) ≥ 25 micrograms per deciliters (µg/dL) is considered “elevated.”
In New Jersey, there has been a trend towards decreasing blood lead levels in adults over time. However, this should be interpreted cautiously for a variety of reasons including the closing of a large lead acid battery manufacturing facility and an overall decrease in manufacturing in New Jersey. Despite these overall trends, the NJDOH still routinely finds elevated blood lead values ≥ 25µg/dL in workers employed in certain industries. Employers are required to offer annual medical exams to workers who have BLLs ≥ 40 µg/dL.
Adult blood lead data were pulled from the New Jersey Adult Blood Lead Epidemiology Surveillance (ABLES) program registry. ABLES collects and analyzes occupational information on adults in blood and/or urine to identify occupations and industries most in need for intervention. All reported New Jersey state residents 16 years or older in the same calendar year with BLLs ≥ 25µg/dL are included.
Work-related injuries and illnesses are preventable. Therefore it is important to assess the availability of trained occupational health professionals that can identify the hazard and implement preventative services in the workplace.
In 1970, Congress established the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA’s mission is to "assure so far as possible every working man and woman in the nation safe and healthful working conditions." This mandate involves the application of a set of tools by OSHA (e.g., standards development, enforcement, compliance assistance). OSHA conducts both referral and non-referral inspections on worksites. Worksites are selected into an emphasis program for non-referred inspections, randomly and on the basis of industry incidence rates of injuries. Investigations are inspections that are triggered by three events: fatality, catastrophe, or referral (including outside health/safety agency or media). All of the above on-site activities are called inspections for the statistical databases. The measures of frequency for this indicator may approximate the added health and safety benefits and protections felt by workers as a result of their worksites being inspected.
Workers’ compensation awards are reviewed to establish whether the reported medical condition is work-related. Accepted awards represent known work-related injuries and illnesses, and often more severe cases. The total and average amounts of benefits paid estimate the burden of these events, which can help justify prevention programs and activities.
In 2008, a total of $1,916,466,000 was awarded to injured New Jersey workers, which is an average of $495 per injured worker.