Work Injury Costs
Work Injury Costs and Time Lost
National Safety Council (NSC) cost estimates represent income not received or expenses incurred because of fatal and nonfatal preventable injuries. These cost estimates are a measure of the economic impact of preventable injuries and may be compared to other economic measures, such as gross domestic product, per capita income, and personal consumption expenditures. The costs reflect the impact to society, not specifically to employers.
The total cost of work injuries in 2020 was $163.9 billion. This figure includes wage and productivity losses of $44.8 billion, medical expenses of $34.9 billion, and administrative expenses of $61.0 billion. This total also includes employers’ uninsured costs of $12.8 billion, including the value of time lost by workers other than those with disabling injuries who are directly or indirectly involved in injuries, and the cost of time required to investigate injuries, write up injury reports, and so forth. The total also includes damage to motor vehicles in work-related injuries of $4.3 billion and fire losses of $6.2 billion.
The cost per worker in 2020 was $1,100. This includes the value of goods or services each worker must produce to offset the cost of work injuries. It is not the average cost of a work-related injury.
Cost per medically consulted injury in 2020 was $44,000, while the cost per death was $1,310,000. These figures include estimates of wage losses, medical expenses, administrative expenses, and employer costs, but exclude property damage costs except to motor vehicles.
Time Lost Due to Work-Related Injuries
The 99,000,000 days lost in 2020 are a result of injuries that occurred in 2020 and days lost in 2020 from injuries that occurred in previous years.
Days lost due to injuries in 2020 totaled 65,000,000. This estimate includes the actual time lost during the year from disabling injuries, but excludes time lost on the day of the injury, time required for further medical treatment, or check-ups following the injured person’s return to work.
Fatalities are included at an average loss of 150 days per case, and permanent impairments are included as actual days lost plus an allowance for lost efficiency resulting from the impairment.
An additional 34,000,000 days were lost in 2020 due to permanently disabling injuries that occurred in prior years.
NSC estimates 50,000,000 additional days will be lost in future years due to on-the-job deaths and permanently disabling injuries that occurred in 2020.
Source: All costs and time lost figures are NSC estimates, please see the technical appendix for more information.