Occupational health disparities: A state public health-based approach


  • Martha Stanbury MSPH,

    Corresponding author
    1. Division of Environmental Health, Michigan Department of Community Health, Lansing, Michigan
    • Correspondence to: M. Stanbury, MSPH, State Administrative Manager, Division of Environmental Health, Michigan Department of Community Health, P.O. Box 30195, Lansing, MI 48909. E-mail: stanburym@michigan.gov

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  • Kenneth D. Rosenman MD

    1. Department of Medicine, College of Human Medicine, Michigan State University, Lansing, Michigan
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  • Disclosure Statement: The authors report no conflicts of interests.



This report used employment and public health surveillance data in Michigan to characterize work-related race/ethnic health disparities.


U.S. Census data were used to calculate the percent by race/Hispanic ethnicity in occupational groups ranked by three measures for potential work-related health risks. Disparities by race/ethnicity were generated from occupational health surveillance data.


Blacks and Hispanics were over-represented in lower wage–higher manual–labor occupations and in highest risk occupations. Blacks were at greater risk of silicosis, work-related asthma, and work-related burns than whites, and Hispanics had higher rates of work-related acute fatal injuries and pesticide injury than non-Hispanics.


Michigan employment data indicated that blacks and Hispanics were overly represented in lower paid and more hazardous jobs. Occupational health surveillance data confirmed disparate risks for some illnesses and injuries. This approach can be used in other states to bring awareness to policy makers and direct interventions. Am. J. Ind. Med. 57:596–604, 2014. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.