Costs of occupational injury and illness across industries

Scand J Work Environ Health. 2004 Jun;30(3):199-205. doi: 10.5271/sjweh.780.


Objectives: This study has ranked industries using estimated total costs and costs per worker.

Methods: This incidence study of nationwide data was carried out in 1993. The main outcome measure was total cost for medical care, lost productivity, and pain and suffering for the entire United States (US). The analysis was conducted using fatal and nonfatal injury and illness data recorded in large data sets from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Cost data were derived from workers' compensation records, estimates of lost wages, and jury awards. Current-value calculations were used to express all costs in 1993 in US dollars.

Results: The following industries were at the top of the list for average cost (cost per worker): taxicabs, bituminous coal and lignite mining, logging, crushed stone, oil field services, water transportation services, sand and gravel, and trucking. Industries high on the total-cost list were trucking, eating and drinking places, hospitals, grocery stores, nursing homes, motor vehicles, and department stores. Industries at the bottom of the cost-per-worker list included legal services, security brokers, mortgage bankers, security exchanges, and labor union offices.

Conclusions: Detailed methodology was developed for ranking industries by total cost and cost per worker. Ranking by total costs provided information on total burden of hazards, and ranking by cost per worker provided information on risk. Industries that ranked high on both lists deserve increased research and regulatory attention.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Absenteeism
  • Accidents, Occupational / economics*
  • Accidents, Occupational / mortality
  • Accidents, Occupational / statistics & numerical data
  • Censuses
  • Efficiency
  • Employer Health Costs / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Industry / classification*
  • Industry / economics
  • Occupational Diseases / economics*
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology
  • Occupational Diseases / mortality
  • United States / epidemiology
  • United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration
  • Workers' Compensation / statistics & numerical data