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Occupational Health Branch

Occupational Health Watch: January 2020

Preventable Injuries, Illnesses & Fatalities Impact Thousands

A worker wearing protecting gear and a harness climbs a palm tree to trim the fronds at the top.Thousands of California workers are injured on the job or become ill and hundreds die every year as a result of preventable hazards at work, resulting in substantial human and economic costs. The amount of workers' compensation benefits that Californians were paid in 2016 alone was $12.1 billion.

The California Department of Public Health's Occupational Health Branch (OHB) tracks the health of the state's workers to promote prevention and has released its Occupational Health Indicators report for 2011-2016 (PDF). Among the findings for 2016:

  • More than 113,000 Californians lost work time after being injured or sick on the job, and over 16,000 were hospitalized.
  • Three hundred and seventy-six workers died from injuries sustained on the job – about one per day.
  • California's rate of musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) is higher than the U.S. rate, and nearly 40,000 workers had an MSD that caused them to miss work.
  • There were over 3,600 claims for carpal tunnel syndrome and nearly 600 workers suffered an amputation.
  • Over 1,500 workers had blood lead levels at or above 10 micrograms per deciliter, increasing their risk of kidney and heart disease, high blood pressure, and cognitive damage.

Please read and share this report to help in OHB's effort to reduce Californians' work-related injuries, illnesses, and fatalities.

Photo: Tree workers' deaths from falls can be prevented through effective safety programs.


California Occupational Health Indicators: Annual measures of worker health and safety, 2011-2016 (PDF) – full report

Occupational Health Indicators

A-Z Index of Workplace Health Topics

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