The need for an occupational disease surveillance system in Australia

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Occupational diseases, such as cancer and respiratory diseases, are important causes of ill health in Australian workplaces. Workers compensation data are the only national source of data which can be used to measure the occurrence of these diseases, but compensation data are known to seriously underestimate their true extent. Disease surveillance has been used as an effective tool to reduce the burden of disease in the public health setting in Australia and for occupational diseases in several overseas countries. Despite some limitations in these surveillance systems, they can provide valuable data, especially for diseases of shorter latency (such as respiratory, skin and musculoskeletal disorders) to better target prevention activities. One of the aims of the National OHS Strategy 2002-2012 is to prevent occupational disease more effectively but, without reliable national occupational data, Australia will not be able to meet this aim. A national occupational disease surveillance system, in combination with other data sources (such as exposure surveillance data), would assist government, industry, unions and practitioners to more effectively reduce the burden of occupational disease in this country.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)557 - 562
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Occupational Health and Safety - Australia and New Zealand
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2007

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