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Costs of occupational musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) in the United States.

Bhattacharya A
Int J Ind Ergon 2014 May; 44(3):448-454
Background: For the years 1992-2010 musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) accounted for 29-35% of all occupational injuries and illnesses involving days away from work in the United States (US) (AFL-CIO, 2012). According to the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) 2012 report 'Death on the Job', for the years 1992 through 2010 the percent of cases involving MSDs in private industry were highest in 2000 (35%) and lowest in 2007 (29%). In 2010, the median number of days away from work for MSDs was 11 compared to 8 for all occupational injury cases involving days away from work; the median number of days away from work for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) was 25, more than three times as high as for all other BLS injuries involving days away from work (BLS, 2011). This study estimated the costs of work related MSDs, and given that the number of days lost due to CTS is very high, it also estimated the costs of CTS separately in the United States (US) for the years 2003 through 2007. Methods: The costs of work related MSDs and CTS in the US were estimated using the cost-of-illness, human capital method (Leigh etal., 2000), using some of the costs from the literature. This method decomposes costs into direct and indirect categories. Estimates of total cost of MSDs and CTS were obtained from the product of average costs of MSDs and CTS and the number of MSDs and CTS. The number of MSDs and CTS were obtained from BLS data. Results: The number of reported work-related MSDs declined from 435,180 in 2003 to 335,390 in 2007 and the reported number of CTS also declined from 22,110 in 2003 to 11,920 in 2007. The direct costs of MSDs and CTS were respectively $1.5 billion and $0.1 billion for the year 2007. The indirect costs were $1.1 billion and $0.1 billion for MSDs and CTS respectively for the year 2007. Discussion: This study found that the total costs of work-related MSDs and CTS declined during the period 2003 through 2007 but the average costs per case went up signifying that medical costs and other associated costs increased during this period. Relevance to industry: The costs of MSDs are important to the industries too as a significant part of these costs are borne by the employers. Industries with higher prevalence of MSDs are affected more in terms of lost productivities due to the employees' days away from work because of MSDs. In cases of MSDs causing permanent disabilities, new hiring and training costs are also a part of the losses experienced by the employers.
Humans; Men; Women; Musculoskeletal-system; Musculoskeletal-system-disorders; Injuries; Statistical-analysis; Traumatic-injuries; Author Keywords: Musculoskeletal disorders; Bureau of Labor Statistics; Medical costs; Indemnity costs
Anasua Bhattacharya, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Education and Information Division, MS C-15, 4676 Columbia Parkway, Cincinnati, OH 45226
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Journal Article
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Priority Area
Services; Wholesale and Retail Trade
Source Name
International Journal of Industrial Ergonomics
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division