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Is $250 Billion Enough?

Julie Copeland

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A study conducted by J. Paul Leigh, professor Cost of Injuries and Illnessesof public health sciences at UC Davis has found that occupational injuries and illnesses cost the nation about $250 billion every year, much higher than shown on a previous study in 1992. 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 was based on Leigh’s evaluation of more than 40 datasets from sources that work-related injuries and illnesses as well as their direct medical and indirect productivity costs and was published in the December issue of the Milbank Quarterly: A Multidisciplinary Journal of Population Health and Health Policy.

The study was funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), and advises that benefits of a strong commitment to workplace safety and health could provide economic benefits.

NIOSH Director John Howard, M.D. states, "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."

The study estimated that 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 high 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, Medicare and Medicaid, raising health-care costs for everyone.

Employers can help drastically reduce the number of workplace injuries and illnesses by complying with regulations established by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). These regulations include the use of appropriate safety products  and safety services to reduce exposure to workplace hazards.

As part of our ongoing effort to ensure that every worker makes it home safe every day, Arbill promises to reduce those costs by at least 10%.  In fact, if your incident rate doesn’t decrease by 10% after one year of implementing our workplace safety recommendations, we’ll pay 10% of your average reduction in injury cost toward additional improvements in your workplace safety program.  Contact your Arbill representative to join the select group of satisfied clients participating in the Arbill Safety Promise Program and reduce your workplace injuries and the costs associated.

Topics: Arbill, cost of workplace injuries, Avoiding Workplace Accidents, Safety Promise Program

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