The New York State Occupational Health Clinic Network was created in 1988 to respond to a serious and unmet need for clinical resources to diagnose, treat, and prevent occupational diseases throughout the state. A remarkable organizing effort led by New York's labor unions, in coalition with academics, public health professionals, safety and health activists convinced the state legislature to fund a study of the problem of occupational disease. When that study showed the high incidence of work related deaths and illnesses, the large number of New Yorkers exposed to hazardous conditions, the tremendous costs associated with work related disease, and the lack of medical providers trained in occupational medicine, the legislature provided funding for the statewide network. The funding came from a small surcharge on the Worker's Compensation insurance payments made by employers.
Each center in the network has a regional responsibility and shares core characteristics. These include:
- A focus on the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of occupational disease
- A multi-disciplinary team including a physician board certified in Occupational Medicine
- Independence of opinion facilitated by public funding
- Universal accessibility assuring all who need services will be attended to
- Advisory board to guide the center's activities and assure responsiveness to the working community's needs