Most people spend the majority of their waking hours at work. As a result, occupational exposures to hazards are a large part of overall public health. The risk of exposure to hazardous materials and/or conditions in the workplace depends and varies greatly on the type of industry as well as the nature of the specific tasks performed by workers. Other variables affecting the risk of exposures include the number and types of preventive measures in place to minimize workplace exposure(s). Often extremely dangerous tasks are done safely, and less dangerous ones result in exposure.
Occupational exposures can be prevented or greatly reduced by the use of engineering controls, work-place procedures and/or personal protective clothing. An example of using engineering controls to reduce exposure is the use of local ventilation to pull hazardous vapors away from workers; an example of a work-place procedure used to reduce potential exposure may include requiring personal protective equipment (like a respirator) or clothes (like gloves) when working with or near hazardous chemicals. Data can give us information (see FAQs) that allows one to determine the extent of injuries/illnesses and to identify the workers or work tasks where the risk is greatest. With this information, exposure prevention measures can be identified and prioritized. In short, data helps us to become aware of how big a problem is and helps focus efforts to accomplish the goal of reducing risk.
There are very specific regulatory requirements that employers must follow related to the potential for exposure to hazardous chemicals and conditions in the workplace. In South Carolina, SC OSHA establishes and enforces these regulations. Nationally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a branch, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), that is dedicated to tracking occupational exposures as well as educating employers and employees about work related hazards. The national Bureau of Labor and Statistics in the Department of Labor houses a lot of data and statistics related to occupational illnesses and injuries, including those reported to DHEC in South Carolina.
The focus of this page is to look at the health effects associated with work place exposures and to make associated data more accessible to researchers, employers, employees, and the general public. On these pages, you will find data and information about several occupational health indicators. More will be added as the data/information becomes available. Our hope is that in making these data available, it will be easier to determine the SC population's health status with respect to workplace injuries and illnesses.
By looking at these indicators over time, we can evaluate trends within South Carolina as well as make comparisons with other states' health or risk status. This will also guide priorities for targeted prevention and intervention efforts and aid us in developing awareness and educational tools to help working populations better understand risk(s) and how to control them.
The links below provide more information (i.e., risk factors, symptoms, prevention, treatment, etc.) on many types of occupational health issues.
You may notice that there is neither a "Map It." nor "Create It." feature on this landing page. That is because the occupational health data that is displayed is state-wide data. If in the future data is available at a smaller geographic level, these features will be added to this landing page.