Is the Societal burden of fatal occupational injury different among NORA industry sectors?

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 1095 Willowdale Road, Morgantown, WV 26501, USA. Electronic address: .
Journal of safety research (Impact Factor: 1.34). 02/2013; 44:7-16. DOI: 10.1016/j.jsr.2012.09.005
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Since the implementation of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, safety and health in the work environment has seen marked improvement. Although these improvements are laudable, workplace hazards continue to plague the American worker. Understanding the economic burden of fatalities by industry sector is important to setting broad occupational safety and health research priorities. Cost estimates provide additional information about how fatal injuries affect society and hence can improve injury prevention program planning, policy analysis, evaluation, and advocacy.
This study estimated the total, mean, and median societal costs by worker and case characteristic in 2003-2006 for the industry sectors identified in the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA). Analyses were conducted with restricted access to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries data. These data exclude military personnel, decedents with unknown age or sex, and fatalities occurring in New York City. Societal costs were estimated using the cost-of-illness approach, which combines direct and indirect costs to yield an overall cost of an fatal occupational injury.
During this period, the cost of the 22,197 fatal occupational injuries exceeded $21 billion. The mean and median costs of these fatalities were $960,000 and $944,000 respectively. Total societal costs by NORA sector ranged from a high of $5.8 billion in Services to a low of $530 million in Healthcare and Social Assistance with mean costs ranging from the nearly $800,000 in Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing to almost $1.1 million in Mining.
The societal costs-total, mean, and median costs-of case and worker characteristics for occupational fatal injuries varied within each NORA sector.
To have the greatest societal impact, these costs can be used to target resources for public and private sector research by industry.

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