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Advocates call for improved safety monitoring

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine are calling for improved tracking and surveillance of workplace injuries in Pennsylvania and throughout the U.S. Following a yearlong study of occupational safety and injury information systems, the agency released a study that indicates a need for governmental agencies to implement methods to share data and better monitor work-related injuries.

Analysts say employers should implement improved health surveillance systems and monitor metadata to achieve the goal of fewer workplace injuries and illnesses. Health surveillance is the term for monitoring the health of individuals at risk for injury or disease through exposure to hazardous materials or unsafe work conditions. Periodically checking the health of workers leads to earlier detection of toxic exposure and places an emphasis on prevention as opposed to post-injury treatments. The study also recommends sharing of data between NIOSH, OSHA and the BLS to reduce redundancies and improve overall responsiveness to occupational health and safety concerns.

A system of periodic medical screenings is likely a tough sell to employers focused on cost reduction. However, American workplaces currently spend $250 million a year on medical treatment and settlements of work injury claims. Since health care costs continue to rise, employers may be persuaded to pursue advanced measures, including health surveillance, to improve occupational safety for workers.

For an employee who has been hurt on the job, it may be wise to hire a workers' compensation lawyer. An injury advocate may be able to hold an employer responsible for unsafe conditions and provide valuable peace of mind to the victim.

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