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Economic costs: another alternative for measuring workplace fatalities.

Biddle-E; Hartley-D
IAIABC Journal 2005 Apr-Jun; 42(1):173-192
Occupational injury, illness, and fatality continue to be prominent public health concerns. Preserving and protecting the American worker encompasses economic, moral and legal parameters. The safety and health community needs quantitative information to facilitate their efforts in recognizing, evaluating, and controlling hazards in the workplace, which ultimately lead to the prevention of occupational fatalities. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) needs data to efficiently optimize resource allocation and to conduct its programs effectively. Other decision makers could use information to evaluate where regulatory and legal efforts in the area of health and safety are having an impact, and identity areas with problems that need attention. The research community seeks to know the impact of prevention activities on particular categories of injury and their causes (Pollack & Keimig, 1987). All these needs - those of the safety professional, OSHA, decision makers, and the research community - require measures of the magnitude and impact of occupational incidents. Over the years a number of measures have been developed and used to analyze occupational fatal injuries. The two more prevalent figures, the frequency of occurrence and the rate of fatal injury, have been used for this purpose. A third measure - years of potential life lost - was introduced in the late 1940s as an alternative measure to quantity premature mortality. The magnitude and impact of workplace fatalities was described in detail by Meyer and Pegula (2004) in "Years of Potential Life Lost: An Alternative for Measuring Workplace Fatalities." The authors provide a comparison of the value of frequency counts, rates of occurrence, and years of potential life lost in measuring workplace fatalities. However, there remains one more measure that can be used for targeting prevention efforts - the societal cost of a workplace fatality. This economic measure determines the impact on U.S. Gross Domestic Product by combining years of potential work life lost (YPWLL) and the number of fatalities with the value of lost production attributable to the fatality. This paper presents a description of this economic measure and a comparison of frequency, YPWLL, and societal cost measures (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1986).
Workers; Occupational-hazards; Traumatic-injuries; Mortality-data; Mortality-rates; Injuries; Health-hazards; Injury-prevention; Occupational-health-programs; Occupational-safety-programs
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Document Type
Journal Article
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NIOSH Division
Priority Area
Research Tools and Approaches: Social and Economic Consequences
Source Name
International Association of Industrial Accident Boards and Commissions Journal
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division