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MASSCOSH/GBPSR Occupational and Environmental Guide

Addressing Work-related Injuries and Illnesses:
A Guide for Primary Care Providers

Developed by the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health and Greater Boston Physicians for Social Responsibility with significant support provided by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

Recognizing that occupational and environmental exposures and conditions may affect health can help primary care physicians prevent the onset and progression of illness and potential disability in their patients, as well as help protect others in the same workplace or environment.

Patients may be exposed to hazardous materials in the workplace, school, home, or other settings (e.g., while traveling or during recreational activities). An occupational/environmental history and assessment should consider each of these. In many cases significant exposures may occur without symptoms or recognition of the hazard. As in most clinical matters, the more a physician knows about the patient's life experience, the easier it is to identify relevant hazardous exposures.

This 2004 guide, Addressing Work-related Injuries and Illnesses: A Guide for Primary Care Providers, provides clinicians with practical tools to raise awareness of common occupational and environmental hazards and health effects and to help providers refer patients to sources of support for addressing underlying causes of injury and disease. It is designed to present clear, brief information for primary care clinicians.

Included in the Guide are:

  • A suggested occupational and environmental health history
  • A series of occupational profiles for occupations common among low-wage or immigrant workers
  • A series of health effects profiles for potentially work-related health effects commonly seen in the primary care setting
  • Fact sheets including information on workers compensation, prevention tools and employer interactions, mandatory reporting requirements, and other resources
  • Patient handouts on workers' compensation, workers' rights, other topics, and much more!

The occupational and health effects profiles are organized in a standard fashion for easy reference:

  • Signs and Symptoms
  • Association with Work
  • Medical Plan
  • Charts on toxicants and health effects
  • Resources for more information

You'll want to keep one on your shelf as a handy clinical reference!