Saf Health Work.  2020 Dec;11(4):397-404. 10.1016/

Developing a Job Exposure Matrix of Work Organization Hazards in the United States: A Review on Methodological Issues and Research Protocol

  • 1Department of Medicine and Program in Public Health, University of California Irvine, CA, USA
  • 2Center for Work and Health Research, Irvine, CA, USA


Most job exposure matrices (JEMs) have been developed for chemical and physical hazards in the United States (US). In addition, the overall validity of most JEMs of work organization hazards using self-reported data in the literature remains to be further tested due to several methodological weaknesses.
This paper aims to review important methodological issues with regard to a JEM of work organization hazards using self-report data and to present a research protocol for developing a four-axis (job titles, hazards, sex, and time) JEM of major work organization hazards using the US General Social Survey-Quality of Work-Life (GSS-QWL) data (2002–2018; N = 7,100 workers).
Five methodological weaknesses in existing JEMs of work organization hazards using self-report data were identified: having only two axes (hazard and occupation), using psychometrically weak items and scales, including scales having little interoccupational variability, unresolved optimal minimum numbers of subjects per occupation, and low accessibility. The methodological weaknesses were successfully addressed in the proposed research protocol.
The work organization JEM to be developed will significantly facilitate and strengthen occupational epidemiological studies on work organization hazards and major health outcomes, improve national and occupational surveillance of work organization hazards, and promote interventions for a healthy work environment in the US.


epidemiology; job exposure matrix; surveillance; United States; work organization
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