Book on the Cost of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses

The Business of Safety Committee (BoSC) asked member Marsie De Oliveira to do a short summary of a book titled: "The Cost of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses". This book was written by J. Paul Leigh, Ph.D., Steven Markowitz, M.D., Marianne Fahs, Ph.D., M.P.H. and Philip Landrigan, M.D., and published by the University of Michigan Press in 2000. Member interest has been strong in this book and a as a result the BOSC did an evaluation.

A. The methodologies used in calculating the cost of occupational injuries and illnesses vary. As a result, the validity of the numbers are constantly questioned and may appear confusing. For example, the total costs of occupational injuries and illnesses may or may not include the loss of contributions by the worker to the home.

B. To truly calculate the cost of injuries and illnesses, multiple data sources are required. For example, the article in the attached link reports 53% of job-related injuries are not included in the BLS reports.

C. This book indicates 40% of all injury deaths involve vehicles, boats and railroads. Traditionally, OSHA does not become involved in transportation accidents; however, John Henshaw currently the head of OSHA has indicated an interest in changing this policy involving transportation vehicles.

D. When using data to support a particular position or recommendation based on injury and illness data, safety and health professionals must reference sources and the limitations of the data. This book does an excellent job of providing data sources and reminding the reader of the limitations in the data.

Overall, this book identified the need for standardized methods to calculate the cost of injuries and illnesses. Below is a link that provides a summary of each chapter:

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/workplace/etc/cost.htm