Study: Workplace injuries and illnesses cost U.S. $250 billion annually

A study conducted by a researcher at the University of California, Davis has found that occupational injuries and illnesses cost the nation about $250 billion every year, much higher than previous estimates.

The study suggests the U.S. should focus more on reducing work-related injuries and illnesses, considering the costs have risen by more than $33 billion, adjusting for inflation, since a study conducted in 1992.

"The costs are enormous and continue to grow," said J. Paul Leigh, professor of public health sciences at UC Davis and author of the study. "And the potential for health risks are high, given that most people between the ages 22 to 65 spend 40 percent of their waking hours at work."

The study was funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), and advises that benefits of a strong commitment to workplace safety and health could provide economic benefits.

NIOSH Director John Howard, M.D. states, "Gaining a better understanding of the burden helps NIOSH and our partners make the case that preventing work-related injuries and illnesses is part of a wise national strategy for economic recovery and growth."

Employers can help lower the amount of workplace injuries and illnesses by complying with regulations established by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). These regulations include the use of appropriate safety products at work, such as work gloves, a safety harness, and ear plugs, to reduce exposure to workplace hazards.

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