Construction Depot Newsletter

Safety and health newsletter for the Oregon construction industry

February 13, 2012

photograph of money

The cost of workplace accidents: it’s more than you think

It’s time for a quiz. Let’s say you own a construction company, you have workers’ compensation insurance, and one of you workers is injured on the job. What’s the total cost of the claim, including wage replacement and medical treatment?

Considering all industries in Oregon, the average total cost of a workers’ compensation claim (in 2010) was $22,720, including wage replacement and medical treatment. However, claims resulting from construction-related injuries had average total costs of $35,642 – second only to such claims costs in the logging industry.

In all, total claim costs for Oregon’s construction industry employers exceeded $54 million in 2010, a substantial sum for work-related injuries. Factor in an average time loss of 113 days for each construction industry claim and you begin to see how employers and employees are affected, not to mention the cost of doing business.

The numbers are even more daunting at the national level. A recent study on the Economic Burden of Occupational Injury and Illness in the United States estimates costs of fatal and nonfatal injuries at $6 billion and $186 billion, respectively. Not surprisingly, the tally for fatal and nonfatal illnesses was even higher: $46 billion and $12 billion. And for injuries and diseases combined, medical cost estimates were $67 billion and indirect costs were almost $183 billion. The study’s author, J. Paul Leigh, professor of public health sciences at the University of California, Davis, noted that the “medical and indirect costs of occupational injuries and illnesses are sizable, at least as large as the cost of cancer.”


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