Pilot: Injury and Illness Surveillance in the Pacific Northwest for the Dairy Industry

Principal Investigator: Michael Yost, PhD, MS
Chair and Professor, UW Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences
Director, Pacific Northwest Agricultural Safety and Health Center

PNASH Pilot Program 2015-2016

Washington State worker's compensation claims data indicate that dairy workers indicate that dairy workers in the state have a higher rate of injury compared to the state average rate for all other industries. This project lays the foundation for a surveillance program of dairy injuries in the State of Washington.This surveillance system will allow PNASH and others to identify research and education needs to reduce injury and illnesses in the industry and to measure the effectiveness of implemented interventions over time. In the long-term the model developed for the dairy industry can then be used for conducting research for other sectors in agriculture, fishing, and forestry.

The data being used in this project was obtained from the Department of Labor and Industry (LNI) with the cooperation from the Safety and Health Assessment and Research for Prevention Program (SHARP). The project researchers identified and created data definitions for key field codes present in the LNI SHARP workers' compensation database and identified the linkages between this data and the Washington State Employment Security Database and the Comprehensive Hospital Abstract Reporting System (CHARS) database. Additionally, the researchers created a database framework at the University of Washington that will allow for the LNI data to be stored and accessed from department servers. Lastly, we obtained data injury claims in the dairy industry from 2010-2014 and compared the rates of injuries across different injury types between dairy, agriculture, and all Washington State employees covered by the state fund. 

The dairy worker population experienced a higher-than-expected claim rate in the 5-year study period as well as seemingly more severe injuries, particularly those related to musculoskeletal disorders and trips and falls. Dairy workers experienced 90% more reported injuries than other workers. In addition, the types of injuries dairy workers experience result in more lost days of work. 

Partners and Advisories
Washington Department of Labor and Industries, SHARP Program

Injury and Illness Prevention in the Pacific Northwest for the Dairy Industry