Date of Award

Spring 2003

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Urban Services--Health Services

Committee Director

Stacey B. Plichta

Committee Member

William E. Luttrell

Committee Member

Scott Sechrist

Committee Member

Clare A. Houseman

Committee Member

Cheryl Samuels


This study was designed to test the usefulness of the Traditional Epidemiological Model of disease causation in modeling occupational injury rates and the presence of occupational illness in the manufacturing industry. More specifically, this research involved use of the agent, host, and environment constructs of the Traditional Epidemiological Model to examine the effects of five environmental-related workplace health and safety practices on occupational injury and illness. Data from the National Occupational Exposure Survey (NOES), conducted by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) in 1981–1983, were used to ascertain the presence of specific workplace characteristics and to calculate occupational injury rates and illness presence in the manufacturing establishments included in the sample. Linear and logistic regression models were used in analyses of the relationships between the agent, host, and environmental factors and the health outcomes of the study.

Findings of this study suggest that implementation of certain environment-related health and safety workplace practices, including the presence of occupational health professionals and labor unions, aid in lowering risk of occupational injury and illness occurrence in manufacturing establishments. Several host characteristics, including a greater percentage of female employees in the workforce, larger company sizes, and geographical location of establishments, were also found to have positive relationships to occupational injury and illness occurrence in the manufacturing industry.

Although the Traditional Epidemiological Model was not found to be appropriate for use in this research study, its application may be effective in future occupational health research related to direct causes of specific occupational diseases. This model would be useful in future research involving the identification of causal relationships or the presence of specific injuries or illnesses, rather than in examining overall injury or illness rates.

Information gained in this study may be used to funnel resources into the areas of greatest need and to make decisions regarding funding for programs and services that are most likely to reduce workplace injury and illness. Changes in the work environment and technological advances have made it necessary for continuous evaluation of current employer health and safety practices and the development of new prevention strategies.