Worker deaths cost billions, NIOSH says

January 7, 2010

U.S. worker deaths cost society more than $43 billion over a 10-year period, according to findings from a NIOSH report (.pdf file) released Dec. 17.

The study examined data gathered from all 50 states in the National Traumatic Occupational Fatality surveillance system from 1992 to 2001. The $43 billion in societal costs from the 51,684 deaths that occurred during that period was factored by combining indirect costs (such as the loss of future earnings of the deceased worker) with direct costs (such as the medical expenses).

Notable findings from the report include:

  • Men made up the majority (93 percent) of all fatalities, and had slightly higher average societal costs ($835,000) than women ($815,000).
  • People 35-44 years old had the highest average societal costs of $1.07 million. Those 65 and older had the lowest average societal costs at $75,000.
  • The industry divisions with the greatest number of deaths and highest society costs during the 10 years were construction, transportation, communication and public utilities.