From The Ergoweb® Learning Center

Not All States Are Created Equal In Cost of Work Injuries

Businesses in West Virginia, Alaska and Wyoming watch out — the total cost of work related fatal and disabling injury/illness cases per employed worker can be up to three times more expensive in these states when compared to other states, says a new study.


The primary reason for this variation, said authors Waehrer et al, is the composition of industry mix within a state: those states with a higher percentage of workers in mining, transportation/public utilities, agriculture service/forestry/fishing, and farming had a higher cost per employed worker.


The 1993 Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Annual Survey and the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries were used to identify case incidence, diagnosis, and lost time.  Direct cost, indirect cost and quality of life costs were estimated from multiple references including the Detailed Claims Information dataset, the National Health Interview Survey, Current Population Survey, occupational injury/illness jury verdicts, and other published studies. 


The states found to have the highest cost per employed worker were West Virginia ($1979), Alaska ($1978), Wyoming ($1602), Kentucky ($1424), and Mississippi ($1344).  New Hampshire ($650), Massachusetts ($658), Minnesota ($673), Delaware ($673) and South Carolina ($688) had the lowest cost per employed worker.  The total cost of 1993 work-related fatal and nonfatal disabling injury/illnesses for all states combined was estimated to be over $78 billion.


However, the authors pointed to some shortcomings found in their calculations including the un-timeliness of using 1993 data, and the fact that the study mimics some of the problems with the  BLS Annual Survey in that it does not consider public employees, farms with fewer than 11 employees, the self-employed, and some workers in private household occupations.



G Waehrer, J P Leigh, D Cassady, and T R Miller. “Costs of Occupational Injury and Illness Across States.” Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine 46: 1084-1095, 2004.

This article originally appeared in The Ergonomics Report™ on 2004-12-21.