From The Ergoweb® Learning Center

Employee Pain Equals Employer Losses

Sure, a pounding head can be a challenge to contend with but when it shows up at the workplace, that simple headache could be costing U.S. employers up to $60 billion each year in lost productivity. At least those are the findings of a new study reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) that reviewed the economic effects of some common pain conditions.

Nearly 30,000 workers took part in the study, consisting of telephone surveys of a cross-section of U.S. workers. Questions asked involved days absent, lost on-the-job productivity and pain that may have contributed to both. Over half of the respondents indicated that they had pain during the previous two weeks and 13 percent reported a productivity loss resulting from the pain.

The study’s researchers, headed by epidemiologist Walter Stewart of Geisinger Health Systems, said that the results may suggest that workers aren’t receiving adequate treatment for “garden variety pain,” like headaches, back pain, muscle or joint pain.

In an article on, Allen Lebovits, pain management specialist at New York University Medical Center, noted that changes implemented in the workplace could alter the productivity losses. Lebovits, who was not involved in the study, said that employers need to “put more money into” pain prevention. His comments also suggested that by addressing workplace ergonomics, specifically computer workstation set-ups or lifting procedures, employers could reduce the impact of employee pain.