Job-related diseases and occupations within a large workers' compensation data set

J Paul Leigh, Ted R. Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


The objective of this report is to describe workers' job-related diseases and the occupations associated with those diseases. The methods include aggregation and analysis of job-related disease and occupation data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Supplementary Data System (SDS) for 1985 and 1986-the last years of data available with workers' compensation categories: death, permanent total, permanent partial, and temporary total and partial. Diseases are ranked according to their contribution to the four workers' compensation (WC) categories and also ranked within occupations according to the number of cases. Occupations are ranked according to their contribution to specific diseases within one of the four categories. The following diseases comprise the greatest numbers of deaths: heart attacks, asbestosis, silicosis, and stroke. Within the permanent total category, the diseases with the greatest contributions are heart attack, silicosis, strokes, and inflammation of the joints. For the permanent partial category, they are hearing loss, inflammation of joints, carpal tunnel syndrome, and heart attacks. For the temporary total and partial category, they are: inflammation of joints, carpal tunnel syndrome, dermatitis, and toxic poisoning. Hearing loss or inflammation of joints are associated with more than 300 occupations. Circulatory diseases comprise a larger share of job- related diseases than is generally acknowledged. Occupations contributing the most heart attack deaths are truck drivers, managers, janitors, supervisors, firefighters, and laborers. Ratios of numbers of deaths to numbers of disabilities are far higher for illnesses than injuries. Occupations that are consistent in their high ranking on most lists involving a variety of conditions include nonconstruction laborers, janitors and construction laborers. The large SDS, though dated, provides a tentative national look at the broad spectrum of occupational diseases as defined by WC and the occupations associated with those diseases in 1985 and 1986. Some description of the spectrum of diseases encountered today is possible especially for occupations, such as those mentioned above for which employment has expanded in the 1990s.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)197-211
Number of pages15
JournalAmerican Journal of Industrial Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Deaths
  • Illnesses
  • Jobs
  • Supplementary data system
  • Workers compensation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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