Page 2 of 2

U.S. Work-Related Injuries, Illnesses Cost $250 Billion Annually: Study

A UC Davis researcher has estimated the national annual price tag of occupational injuries and illnesses at $250 billion. This figure is $31 billion more than the direct and indirect costs of all cancer, $76 billion more than diabetes, and $187 billion more than strokes.

The study suggests that the U.S. should place greater emphasis on reducing work-related injury and illnesses, especially since the costs have risen by more than $33 billion (inflation adjusted) since a 1992 analysis, the author said.

"It's unfortunate that occupational health doesn't get the attention it deserves," said J. Paul Leigh, professor of public health sciences at UC Davis and author of the study. "The costs are enormous and continue to grow. And the potential for health risks are high, given that most people between the ages 22 to 65 spend 40 percent of their waking hours at work."

Published in the December issue of the Milbank Quarterly: A Multidisciplinary Journal of Population Health and Health Policy, the study is based on Leigh's evaluation of more than 40 datasets from sources that track work-related injuries and illnesses as well as their direct medical and indirect productivity costs.

In generating the estimate, Leigh gathered 2007 data on occupational injuries and illnesses and their costs for U.S. civilian workers, including agricultural and self-employed workers.

Injury and disease data came from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Available epidemiological research on the percentages of diseases—such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and cancer—that can be attributed to occupational exposures was also considered. Leigh accounted for underreported illnesses and injuries using estimates based on reporting to BLS and workers' compensation systems.

Cost data came from the National Council on Compensation Insurance, the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project and the National Academy of Social Insurance. Total costs were calculated by multiplying the number of cases of occupational injury or illness by the average cost per case.

The study estimates that in 2007 there were:

  • 8,564,600 fatal and non-fatal work-related injuries, which cost $192 billion
  • 516,100 fatal and non-fatal work-related illnesses, which cost $58 billion

The study also estimates 59,102 combined deaths from occupational injuries and diseases, which is higher than all deaths from motor vehicle crashes (43,945), breast cancer (40,970), or prostate cancer (29,093) in the same year.

Leigh noted in the study that workers' compensation premiums do not currently account for these figures. In fact, less than 25 percent of the costs of workplace injuries and illnesses are covered by workers' compensation. As a result, many occupational health issues go unresolved, and the bulk of the costs are absorbed by employer-provided medical insurance and Medicare and Medicaid, Leigh said.

The study, which was funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), also highlights how greater attention to workplace safety and health could have broad economic benefits.

"In the four decades since the Occupational Safety and Health Act and the Mine Safety and Health Act were signed, there has been significant improvement in the prevention of work-related injuries and illnesses," said NIOSH Director John Howard, M.D. "However, much work lies ahead of us, and a study such as this one is important for highlighting the economic burden of occupational illness. Gaining a better understanding of the burden helps NIOSH and our partners make the case that preventing work-related injuries and illnesses is part of a wise national strategy for economic recovery and growth. Such data also may inform innovative approaches for building or enhancing corporate safety and health cultures."

A copy of the study -- "Economic Burden of Occupational Injury and Illness in the United States" -- can be downloaded at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1468-0009.2011.00648.x/full.

Product Showcase

  • Kestrel 5400 Heat Stress Tracker WBGT Monitoring for Workplace Safety

    Ensure safety with the Kestrel® 5400 Heat Stress Tracker, the go-to choice for safety professionals and endorsed by the Heat Safety & Performance Coalition. This robust, waterless WBGT meter is ideal for both indoor and outdoor environments, offering advanced monitoring and data logging essential for OSHA compliance. It features pre-programmed ACGIH guidelines and alert settings to quickly signal critical conditions. Integrated with the cloud-based Ambient Weather Network, the 5400 allows managers to view, track, and log job site conditions remotely, ensuring constant awareness of potential hazards. Its capability for real-time mobile alerts and remote data access promotes proactive safety management and workplace protection, solidifying its role as a crucial tool in industrial hygiene. Read More

  • Magid® D-ROC® GPD412 21G Ultra-Thin Polyurethane Palm Coated Work Gloves

    Magid’s 21G line is more than just a 21-gauge glove, it’s a revolutionary knitting technology paired with an advanced selection of innovative fibers to create the ultimate in lightweight cut protection. The latest offering in our 21G line provides ANSI A4 cut resistance with unparalleled dexterity and extreme comfort that no other 21-gauge glove on the market can offer! Read More

  • Glove Guard® Clip

    Safety should never be compromised, especially when it comes to proper glove usage. The Glove Guard® clip enhances safety by encouraging employees to keep their gloves with them at all times. This reduces the risk of accidents and injuries on the job. By ensuring everyone has their gloves readily available, we help promote a culture of safety and efficiency. The Glove Guard® clip is designed to withstand the toughest work environments. Constructed from robust materials made in the USA, it can endure extreme conditions, including harsh weather, and rigorous activities. Read More

Featured

Artificial Intelligence