Occupational injury and illness surveillance: conceptual filters explain underreporting

Am J Public Health. 2002 Sep;92(9):1421-9. doi: 10.2105/ajph.92.9.1421.


Occupational health surveillance data are key to effective intervention. However, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics survey significantly underestimates the incidence of work-related injuries and illnesses. Researchers supplement these statistics with data from other systems not designed for surveillance. The authors apply the filter model of Webb et al. to underreporting by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, workers' compensation wage-replacement documents, physician reporting systems, and medical records of treatment charged to workers' compensation. Mechanisms are described for the loss of cases at successive steps of documentation. Empirical findings indicate that workers repeatedly risk adverse consequences for attempting to complete these steps, while systems for ensuring their completion are weak or absent.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Occupational / statistics & numerical data*
  • Data Collection / methods
  • Disease Notification / statistics & numerical data
  • Documentation
  • Employment / statistics & numerical data
  • Government Agencies
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Medical Records
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Plant Extracts
  • Population Surveillance / methods*
  • Quality Control
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Workers' Compensation / statistics & numerical data
  • Wounds and Injuries / epidemiology*


  • Plant Extracts
  • nas