There are few state-based surveillance systems of nonfatal work-related injuries that combine data from multiple sources and allow for important links to intervention programs in the workplace. The field of injury surveillance is expanding, and new opportunities to integrate the surveillance of work-related injuries into more general injury surveillance systems need to be actively pursued. The conventional injury surveillance datasets, such as workers' compensation and the Department of Labor's Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses, need to be supplemented by data from broader resources, such as ambulatory care data, which captures a much greater range of the work-related injuries sustained by the general population. Almost completely lacking is information about the health hazards to which young workers are exposed: Very little information is currently available, and the committee could not identify any surveillance focus on such hazards.
Recommendation: The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, in collaboration with the Bureau of Labor Statistics and other relevant federal and state agencies, should develop and implement a comprehensive plan for monitoring the work-related injuries and illnesses sustained by workers under the age of 18 and for monitoring the hazards to which these young workers are exposed. Additional resources should be allocated to the appropriate agencies to implement the components of such a plan that are not currently funded.
The committee has identified a number of surveillance activities that should be priorities for consideration as this planning effort proceeds.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) should explore paying specific attention to young workers when conducting hazard surveillance. For example, NIOSH should explore the feasibility and utility of collecting and routinely reporting how many workers are under the age of 18 and what percentage of the work force they represent whenever it assesses exposures to health hazards. (This would apply both to workplaces in which health hazards are evaluated and to those surveyed in the National Occupational Exposure Survey.) Special studies to assess exposure to health hazards among certain populations of young workers, such