National Institute of Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH) has developed a priority list of 10 leading work-related illnesses and injuries. Three criteria were used to develop the list: a) the frequency of occurrence of the illness or injury, b) its severity in individual cases, and c) its potential for prevention. Occupational lung disease is first on the list. Silicosis, asbestosis and byssinosis are still prevalent in many parts of the world. The prevalence of Occupational Asthma varies from 10% to nearly all of the workers in certain high-risk occupations. NISOH considers occupational cancer to be the second leading work-related disease, followed by cardio-vascular diseases; disorder of reproduction, neurotoxicity, noise induced hearing loss, dermatological conditions, and psychological disorders.
In India, prevalence of silicosis was 6.2 - 34 % in mica miners, 4.1 % in manganese miners, 30.4% in lead and zinc miners, 9.3% in deep and surface coal miners, 27.2% in iron foundry workers, and 54.6% in slate-pencil workers. Prevalence of Asbestosis was extended from 3% in Asbestos miners to 21% in mill workers. In textile workers the Bysinosis was as common as 28-47%. Nutritional status in terms of body mass indices (BMI) of the workers is also significantly low.
Occupational health was one of the components of the National Health Policy 1983 and National Health Policy 2002. Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Govt. of India has launched a scheme entitled "National Programme for Control & Treatment of Occupational Diseases" in 1998-99. The National Institute of Occupational Health, Ahmedabad (ICMR) is the nodal agency for the same.
The global strategy for achieving occupational health for all (WHO-SEARO 1999) includes the following ten major areas for action: