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For Release:
September 20, 2005

Fred M. Jacobs, M.D., J.D.

For Further Information Contact:
Gretchen Michael

New Jersey Will Track Worker Safety, Promote Prevention of Illness and Injury


The New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) is strengthening its commitment to the health and safety of workers in the Garden State with a new initiative to promote workplace safety.


The Department’s Occupational Health Surveillance Program collects hospital, physician and laboratory data on work-related illness and injury in New Jersey. The program recently secured $1.25 million in grant funding from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), which will be used in part to analyze trends related to on-the-job illness and injury among New Jersey workers over the next five years.


DHSS Deputy Commissioner and State Epidemiologist Eddy Bresnitz, M.D., said the Department will use the data to influence workplace policies on factors that compromise worker health – ranging from exposure to poisonous substances to poorly designed workspaces – and to promote funding for worker safety measures.


“For those who spend 40 hours a week on the job, work environments must be safe and healthy,” Dr. Bresnitz said. “The ultimate goal of this program is improved protection for the New Jersey worker, which should directly benefit employers as well.”


According to current Department statistics, on-the-job injuries claim the lives of 120 workers in New Jersey each year, an average of one every three days. More than 149,000 workers experience work-related illnesses and injuries.


In the U.S. the estimated total cost of work-related illness and injury each year exceeds $170 billion, according to the Council for State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE), a professional association of epidemiologists with a broad range of expertise in public health.


New Jersey and 12 other states worked collaboratively with CSTE and NIOSH to create a model for compiling occupational health data. The model, based on 19 health indicators, was used to create a snapshot of worker health in the 13 states for the year 2000. Other states are expected to join the initiative, creating a more uniform picture of worker health across the nation.


A copy of the report, “Putting Data to Work: Occupational Health Indicators from Thirteen Pilot States for 2000,” is available in the CSTE website at




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