Non-fatal injuries in the US add up to an estimated $1590 and an average of 11 days off work per injured employee every year, indicates an analysis of medical insurance claims and productivity data, published online in the journal Injury Prevention.
These figures exclude people without workplace health insurance, those out of work, and caregivers.
There are more than 30 million annual visits to emergency care for non-fatal injuries every year in the US, with total medical costs exceeding US$133 billion.
Previous estimates of lost productivity attributable to injury have been based on absenteeism associated with injuries sustained only in the workplace and haven’t assessed the impact of different types of injury.
To try and rectify this, and calculate the overall value of lost workplace productivity, the researchers mined millions of workplace health insurance claims data (MarketScan) and Health and Productivity Management databases for sick leave taken between 2014 and 2015.
They looked specifically at non-fatal injuries treated in emergency departments for 18-64 year olds with health insurance cover, by injury type and body region affected, as well as the amount of sick leave taken in the year following the injury.
These data were then compared with the number of days of sick leave taken by employees who had not sustained injuries.
The injuries analysed included burns, poisonings, firearm wounds, falls, bites and stings, road traffic collisions, and those caused by machinery and overexertion.
The researchers estimated that the total annual value of lost workplace productivity attributable to all types of non-fatal injury and, initially treated in emergency care, amounted to an average 11 days and US$1590 for each injured employee.
Values ranged from 1.5 days and US$210 for bites and stings to 44 days and US$6196 for motorbike injuries. Days taken off work ranged from 4 for other head, face and neck injuries to almost 20 for traumatic brain injuries.
The researchers admit that their calculations exclude long term disabilities or long term physical and mental illness caused by violent assault. Nor do the figures include injuries among those without workplace health insurance, the jobless, or caregivers.
But they conclude:”Non-fatal injuries are preventable and incur substantial lost work productivity at a high cost to individuals, employers and society.”