Worker Health Charts

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has created Worker Health Charts (WHC), a data visualization tool that pulls from workplace safety and health data sets and allows users to create graphic charts to visually show rates, distribution, and trends of work-related injuries, illnesses, and deaths.

NIOSH says that WHC is unique because it allows quick analysis of work-related safety and health data that may be difficult to find or are not charted elsewhere.

To illustrate WHC’s application:

Jim manages a manufacturing plant that makes office furniture using plywood and other engineered wood products. Their worksite takes worker safety seriously and is interested to know if the rate of severe injuries they are experiencing is high compared to injuries occurring at other office furniture manufacturing plants.

With the help of a WHC, Jim starts by selecting from a list of data sources or topics, including:

  • Exposure;
  • Health and safety behaviors;
  • Health status;
  • Illnesses and conditions;
  • Injuries;
  • Working conditions and employment benefits; and
  • Workforce characteristics.

Jim clicks on “severe non-fatal injuries and illnesses” by “industry” and makes selections from the drop-down options and clicks “Apply Options”. To dig deeper, he rolls his cursor over the bars within the chart, which highlight red and pop out specific details about the incidence rate for that industry. He clicks on the “manufacturing” bar, and a new chart is produced, which shows the different types of manufacturing.

Drilling down further, Jim notices most of his employee injuries occurred to the lower extremities, not the trunk like the Bureau of Labor Statistics data indicate. Jim begins to feel increasing concern.  He decides to contact an occupational safety and health consultant to help him determine why his plant is experiencing high rates of lower extremities injuries.

According to NIOSH, this scenario is one way we hope that Worker Health Charts can also be used to identify where intervention and prevention efforts could be helpful.