The Real Cost of Not Protecting Workers on the Job

Written by Greg on April 8, 2015


For both employers and employees alike, the cost of not protecting workers while on the job can be extremely detrimental. As noted by OSHA:

[dropshadowbox align=”none” effect=”lifted-both” width=”810px” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]“the failure of many employers to prevent millions of work injuries and illnesses each year, and the failure of the broken workers’ compensation system to ensure that workers do not bear the costs of their injuries and illness, are truly adding inequality to the injury.”[/dropshadowbox]


In short, when a worker becomes injured, as the above quote indicates, it is not only damaging to them on a physical level, but also on an emotional and financial level as well. To that end, this also does not speak on the fact that the situation can also be damaging in terms of social costs, governmental costs, and costs for the organization itself.


As noted by OSHA, “work injuries and illnesses exact a tremendous toll on society.” As such, it is important for both workers and their employers alike to fully understand what kind of costs might be seen.


According to OSHA, there are startling statistics that one should be aware of:

  • In 2012 alone, the cost of fatal and on-fatal work injuries stood at an enormous $198 billion. To put that in perspective, research shows that the estimated costs of both dementia and diabetes, which are commonly known for their high costs, were combined at $215 billion.
  • On average workers earn $31,000 or 15% less over 10 years after an injury has occurred.
  • Moreover, the research also indicates an average of 4,500 workers is killed on the job each year. In addition, three million serious work related injuries will occur every year on average. This in turn represents lost wages for both workers that are taken out of commission for a short term, or unfortunately, their death means loss of wages for the longer term.


What these facts work to underline is that worker injuries do not only create physical harm, but also have long lasting effect. In addition, OSHA also indicates that the cost of worker injuries often break down as followed:

  • Out of Pocket: 50%
  • Worker’s Compensation: 21%
  • Private Health Insurance: 13%
  • Federal Government: 11%
  • State and Local Government: 5%


In addition, several studies cited by OSHA also indicate that the increase of risk and injury also works to lead to income inequality. Moreover, if there is no collaboration between employees, employers, and other facilities then these injuries can sky rocket, also contributing to overall costs.


While one may assume that only those related to the employee, such as their families, the government, or employers will only bear these costs, research also indicates that occupational injuries and illnesses also impact society as a whole. As noted by OSHA, this will result in higher taxpayer dollars, which are used to subsidize unsafe or uninsured or underinsured employers. As the research indicates, when one actually breaks down the costs of not keeping workers safe, they can actually be quite staggering in reality.



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