The OHCC is part of a network of occupational health clinic centers established by New York State in 1987. The Network was created to respond to a serious need for clinical resources to diagnose, treat, and prevent occupational diseases. 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 Workers' 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
- A community based advisory board to guide the center's activities and assure responsiveness to the working community's needs
- The OHCC was established in Syracuse in 1987. In 2008, the program expanded to the North Country and the Southern Tier with new offices opened in Canton and Binghamton.