New Data: Workplace Injuries Cost U.S. $177 Billion
The National Safety Council has released its 2012 “Injury Facts,” a detailed reporting on the incidence and costs of unintentional injuries and deaths. The report is always interesting, and helpful to those involved in safety and ergonomics.
Some nuggets from this year’s report:
- In 2010 there were an estimated 5 million “medically consulted injuries” and 3,783 deaths that occurred in the workplace.
- The total cost of work-related deaths and injuries was $176.9 billion. The largest component was not medical costs — it was wage and productivity losses ($86.8 billion). Medical costs were next at $43.2 billion, and then administrative expenses of $32 billion.
- The average cost of a medically consulted injury was $37,000.
- The cost per worker of workplace injuries was $1,300 — meaning that each worker in America must produce $1,300 of goods or services just to offset the cost of workplace injuries.
- An estimated 60 million days of work were lost in 2010 due to injuries and deaths (with deaths counted at 150 days for reasons that are not entirely clear); 50 million more days will have been missed in future years due to injuries that took place in 2010.
- A workplace injury takes place every six seconds, which means 96,000 each week.
- The incidence rate of occupational injury and illness decreased 3% in 2010, continuing a steady trend over the last several decades.
Even though occupational safety and health continues to improve, the costs are still staggering. Notably, the largest component of expense is pure waste — losses to earnings and productivity that benefit no one. This means that reduction of workplace injuries represents an opportunity for businesses to gain with relatively little risk or downside, as well as substantial collateral benefits outside the organization (not just employees, but their families, communities, the health care system…). The productivity impact is also one reason why investments in ergonomics tend to produce a high return on investment (see a related discussion on the ROI from ergonomics initiatives).
The National Safety Council report is full of helpful breakdowns of injuries and deaths by industry, type of injury, and demographics of the injured. (It also has some analyses that are interesting due solely to curiosity factor, such as the fact that your lifetime odds of dying in a auto accident are 1 in 98, while the chance of dying in “air and space transport incidents” is 1 in 7,178. Your lifetime odds of dying from legal execution? 1 in 111,179.)
Check back for more commentary on injury rates in particular industries and occupations.