Study: Job Site Injury Leads to Lower Lifetime EarningsMarch 5, 2015
A study by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration found that workers who suffer from a job site injury will see an average decrease of 15 percent in their earnings over the ten years following the injury. The OSHA report also showed that workers will pay an average of 50 percent of the medical costs associated with their job site injury. The report not only points out the costs to the worker from job site injuries, but also highlights the overall economic impacts of workplace accidents.
Job Site Injury Worsens Economic Disparity
For workers in dangerous, low-paying jobs, a job site injury can become a financial catastrophe. Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, remarked in the report about how a job site injury can “add to the pressing issue of income inequality.” In the report his department compiled, he stated that a job site injury can force working-class families “out of the middle class and into poverty.” He also stated that such injuries can prevent lower-wage workers from escaping the cycle of poverty.
Job Site Injury Numbers Show Under-Reporting
The OSHA report cites numerous other studies which show that employers under-report the number of job site injury incidents. The study used data compiled from the Bureau of Labor Statistic, which comes from legally mandated injury logs from employers. While the BLS data shows an annual average of nearly 3 million serious job site injury incidents, the OSHA report says that the BLS average “is undoubtedly only a fraction of the true number” of injuries workers endure each year.
Economic Impact of Job Site Injury
The economic impact of so many job site injury issues can extend well beyond an individual worker or company. A report from the National Safety Council estimates that job site injury incidents costs the national economy nearly $200 billion in 2012. The NSC report compared the cost of workplace injuries to other diseases, such as diabetes ($245 billion) and dementia ($215 billion). These costs do not include injuries or illnesses that do not show symptoms until after the initial incident, such as illnesses stemming from exposure to toxic chemicals.
Emotional Toll of Job Site Injury
The OSHA job site injury study also reflects on the emotional toll taken on those workers who are unable to provide for their families. The study includes a story of a Virginia family, in which the husband suffered a job site injury that left him with a mangled right foot. After several surgeries, he was forced to wear a special boot to walk. The family spent their savings on his medical bills and lived in a shelter until they moved into a mold-ridden and flea-infested apartment. The wife wrote a letter to President Barack Obama stating that, “if the employer had done their job enforcing OSHA regulations, accidents like the one my husband was involved in would never happen.”
Sources: EHS Today, OSHA
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