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Upstate Medical University report says the workplace causes occupational disease, injuries and death

Upstate's Occupational Health Clinic in Sryacuse Cr John Smith.jpg
John Smith
/
WAER
Upstate's Occupational Health Clinic in Syracuse

Upstate Medical University researchers said a disease that could be a root cause to how Central New Yorkers are feeling could be a result of what happens to them at work. The report: “occupational disease in New York” finds it accounts for 13% of all reported diseases by working adults and is costing more than $4 billion annually. Meanwhile, taxpayers are picking up more than 70% of the bills. Co-author and researcher Michael Lax said the state needs to get a game plan.

“What needs to be addressed is the prevention of occupational disease.  In order to do that, we’re recommending that the state really needs to make a conscious effort to make an occupational disease prevention agenda and that sort of forces them to come to the table and really start think about how this issue should be addressed in a collaborative sort of way.”

He said even the CNY Occupational Health Clinic has been flatly funded for years. Co-author Jeannette Zoeckler, said workers in 28 low wage categories are particularly vulnerable and represent 31% of the total workforce.

“A lot of workers, people in the community making low wages, making wages that are not enough to live on, and that alone is a risk for health but, they are also working in higher risk jobs.”

Zeockler said workplace stress is also a factor for low-income workers and part of their inability to handle it, at least partly to due to their individual education level. However, she acknowledges that stress on the job is also a reality for educated and more experienced workers that often leads to cardiac and heart issues.

“People that you know in your life who’ve like persisted with a job that they feel under-appreciated, underpaid, constantly put upon to do more with less all the time.  They’re more likely to have these long-term health outcomes that don’t show up in a worker’s compensation case because it’s hard to prove that.  But, we know that’s a big chunk of what’s going on with workers’ health.  So, we’re wanting to persue thinking through those things in the future.”  

Her co-author Dr. Lax, suggested employees feeling stressed should ask their employer to form health and safety committees which is provided under the NY HERO Act. He said it could play a key role in allowing employees to point out stress in the workplace and address other issues that make for an occupational disease workplace issue.

Upstate Jeanette Zoeckler, PhD from Upstate's Occupational Health Clinic Center Cr John Smith.jpg
John Smith
/
WAER
Upstate Jeanette Zoeckler, PhD from Upstate's Occupational Health Clinic Center