The Bollinger Law Firm, P.C.

Costs of workplace injuries and illnesses is on rise in U.S.

A new study about occupational health suggests that the costs of job-related injuries have increased by more than $33 billion since 1992, according to a news report. The findings indicate that both North Carolina and the U.S. at large need to work to reduce workplace injuries and illnesses, the study's author said.

The study analyzed the 8,564,600 fatal and non-fatal work-related injuries that took place in 2007, and found that the total cost amounted to $192 billion. There were also 516,100 fatal and non-fatal work-related illnesses that year, amounting to $58 billion. Also notable is that during 2007 there were more lives claimed by workplace diseases and illnesses than by car accidents, breast cancer or prostate cancer.

Workers' compensation usually covers under one-quarter of the costs of occupational injuries and illnesses, according to the study, direct medical and indirect productivity costs are included.

The study's authors are calling for more attention to be paid to occupational health, as not only the costs but the health risks for employees can be very high. Americans between the ages of 22 and 65 spend about 40 of their waking hours working, according to the study.

One way that small businesses can work to meet their legal duty to provide a safe workplace is to partake in the Occupational Safety & Health Administration's free consultations that were recently announced.

OSHA is offering free, non-punitive, on-site consults to identify hazards and help employers to foster a safe workplace.

Last week, in our Charlotte NC Worker's Compensation Law Blog, we wrote about The North Carolina Department of Labor's announcement that 53 people died in on-the-job accidents in 2011. All of the accidents were preventable, according to the department. Hopefully, such statistics and studies will encourage more Charlotte employers to focus on occupational health.

Source: U.S. News & World Report, "U.S. Work-Related Injuries, Illnesses Take Toll on the Till," Jan. 20, 2012

Source: Reuters, "OSHA Offers Free Consults to Small Businesses," Stephanie Rabiner, Jan. 25, 2012

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