Trained as an occupational epidemiologist, for over 35 years I directed the Occupational Health Surveillance Program (OHSP) at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. During that time I worked to increase the state’s capacity to track and ultimately prevent work-related injuries and illnesses. I oversaw the development and implementation of multiple occupational health surveillance systems including the Massachusetts Occupational Lead Registry, a multi-source surveillance system for fatal occupational injuries, surveillance systems for injuries associated with sharps and with patient handling among hospital workers, a model surveillance system for work-related injuries to young workers, and case-based surveillance and follow-up of work-related asthma, amputations, burns, and acute chemical poisonings. I also served as principal investigator on numerous surveillance research studies exploring the use of existing public health data sources to document work-related health outcomes, with a focus on better understanding the needs of underserved populations. Surveillance carries with it an imperative to use the data for action, and as OHSP director, I worked with many community and agency partners locally and nationally on prevention initiatives to address identified health and safety problems.
An underlying theme throughout my career has been to work across public health domains to increase recognition of work as a social determinant of health and promote consideration of the impact of work on health in public health practice more broadly, From 1998 through 2015, I was a lead consultant in occupational health to the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE), working on the national level to promote the integration of occupational health into public health practice in the states. As an applied epidemiologist in occupational safety and health, I have had the opportunity to serve both locally and nationally on many advisory committees and scientific panels. Since retirement from OHSP, I have continued as an occupational health researcher, collaborating with academic and CSTE partners and consulting with unions and others working to protect the health, safety, and wellbeing of working people.