Delivering on the Nation's Promise: Safety and health at work for all people through research and prevention
Occupational Safety and Health in Oregon
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
As part of its mission, NIOSH operates programs in every state to improve the health and safety of workers. NIOSH responds to requests from businesses, workers, and state agencies to evaluate potential hazards in the workplace. NIOSH has developed this document to identify the occupational safety and health issues that are important to Oregon workers and employers and to highlight the NIOSH programs in Oregon that are currently underway.
In the United States:
In the State of Oregon:
Illnesses Affecting Oregon Workers
Data collected as part of the NIOSH Work-Related Lung Disease Surveillance Report, showed that from 1988 to 1992, Oregon's mortality rate for asbestosis ranked eighth in the country.
The Cost of Occupational Injury and Illness in Oregon
In 1996, 99,574 claims were filed for workers' compensation in Oregon, primarily for nonfatal injuries. More than half of these involved sprains and strains such as back injuries. Service workers and laborers were most often injured. The industry divisions of manufacturing (which includes logging), services, and retail trade accounted for the majority of claims. In 1996, workers' compensation payments cost Oregon businesses $412 million. This figure underestimates the total burden, since only about 60% of injured workers receive workers' compensation. This figure does not include workers who are employed in the public sector and also understates the total financial burden for private sector businesses, since only a fraction of health care costs and earnings lost through work injuries and illnesses are covered by workers' compensation. Chronic occupational illnesses like cancer are excluded. Oregon spent $27.4 million in FY 96 to administer its workers' compensation program.
How does NIOSH prevent worker injuries and diseases in
NIOSH evaluates workplace hazards and recommends solutions when requested by employers, workers, or state and federal agencies. Since 1993, NIOSH has responded to 13 requests for evaluation in Oregon, in a variety of industrial settings.
In October 1995, NIOSH scientists responded to a request for technical assistance from the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services. The request dealt with health problems (asthma, allergic rhinitis, upper respiratory system ailments, sore throats, hoarseness, and nausea) reported by employees of the Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office in St. Helens, Oregon. NIOSH confirmed the State's own finding of contamination by fungi and bacteria after examining bulk samples of the water damaged materials from the office. NIOSH recommended decontamination procedures, but also warned that more stringent measures such as interior demolition might be required, particularly if exterior wall insulation and the inside of interior walls were contaminated.
In November 1996, NIOSH responded to a request from an employee at the hardboard plant of the Weyerhaeuser Company in Klamath Falls regarding the employee's concern with the number of cancer cases among fellow employees. After addressing the information provided by this employee, NIOSH concluded that the numbers and types of cancer described did not seem to be inordinately high nor of the type that would be consistent with the exposures found at the hardboard plant. After a NIOSH scientist discussed these issues with the employee, the case was closed.
Promoting Safety and Health in Agriculture
In Fiscal Year 1997, NIOSH awarded funds for a cooperative agreement with the Oregon Department of Health for the Community Partners for Healthy Farming' program for agricultural surveillance.
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 and safety problems. No comparable service exists in the United States. The total number of calls placed from Oregon to the 800-number in 1997 was 1,230. Additional information regarding NIOSH services and activities can be accessed through the NIOSH homepage on the World Wide Web at http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/.