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(1):7-16. DOI: 10.1016/j.jsr.2012.09.005
Source: PubMed


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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    ABSTRACT: Background The Services Sector, as defined by the National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA), is comprised of a diverse industry mix and its workers face a variety of occupational exposures and hazards. The objective of this study was to identify high-risk industry groups within the Services Sector for prevention targeting. Methods Compensable Washington State workers’ compensation claims from the Services Sector from 2002 through 2010 were analyzed. A “prevention index” (PI), the average of the rank orders of claim count and claim incidence rate, was used to rank 87 Services Sector industry groups by seven injury types: Work- Related Musculoskeletal Disorders (WMSDs), Fall to Lower Level, Fall on Same Level, Struck By/Against, Caught In/Under/Between, Motor Vehicle, and Overexertion. In the PI rankings, industry groups with high injury burdens appear higher ranked than industry groups with low counts or low rates of injury, indicating a need for prioritizing injury prevention efforts in these groups. Results In the Services Sector, these 7 injury types account for 84% of compensable claims in WA. The industry groups highest ranked by PI across the injury types included: Services to Buildings and Dwellings; Executive, Legislative, and Other General Government Support; and Waste Collection. WMSDs had the highest compensable claims rates. Conclusions Services is a large sector of the economy, and the substantial number, rate, and cost of occupational injuries within this sector should be addressed. Several Services Sector industry groups are at high risk for a variety of occupational injuries. Using a PI to rank industry groups based on their injury risk provides information with which to guide prevention efforts.
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