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Inputs: Occupational Safety and Health Risks

As the nature of work in the U.S. changes, the limitations of a focus on occupational risks alone have become increasingly apparent. Clearly, the overall health of workers is influenced by factors both inside and outside the workplace: stress at work and home; unhealthful diet and limited exercise; smoking; chronic conditions such as hypertension, asthma, and diabetes, to name a few. The effects of these various factors cannot be artificially divided between “at work” and “non-work.” Just as workplace conditions can affect health and well-being at home and in the community, exposures and activities outside of working hours can substantially determine health, productivity, and well-being during work.

Illness and Injury in the United States—Workplace Statistics

  • 5.840 fatalities from work-related injuries in 2006
  • 4,000,000 occupational illnesses and injuries in the private sector in 2006
  • $87.6 billion in employers' workers' compensation costs

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2006; National Academy of Social Insurance 2006.

Burden of Chronic Disease in the United States

  • 553,000 deaths and 1.3 million new cases each year.
  • Economic burden: $217 billion a year including $89 billion in medical costs and $130 billion for lost work days and productivity.

  • Over 23.6 million cases and over 200,000 deaths from complications from the disease each year.
  • Economic burden: $174 billion a year including $116 billion in medical costs and $58 billion for lost work days and productivity.
Cardiovascular Disease
  • Over 80 million cases and over 870,000 people who die of heart disease and stroke each year.
  • Economic burden: $448 billion a year including direct and indirect costs.
Tobacco Use
  • Approximately 438,000 deaths each year.
  • Economic burden: Over $96 billion in medical costs and $97 billion in indirect costs
  • More than one third of U.S. adults—more than 72 million people are obese
  • Medical expenditures for obese workers, depending on severity of obesity and sex, are between 29%–117% greater than expenditures for workers with normal weight.

Sources: National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Control, 2008. National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Obesity; Halting the Epidemic by Making Health Easier, At a Glance, 2009.


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  • Page last reviewed: December 27, 2012
  • Page last updated: March 21, 2013 The U.S. Government's Official Web PortalDepartment of Health and Human Services
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