Home Hazards Impact Employees and Employers

June 18, 2003
Employers are spending an average of $280 per employee helping to pay for injuries that employees and their dependents suffer at home. These "off-the-clock" injuries result in a $38 billion a year financial burden to U.S. employers, according to a new study released by the Home Safety Council.

The study revealed the cost of unintential home injuries is almost double what employers pay out for "off-the-clock" highway crashes ($19.5 billion).

The economic cost study, which examined the costs of unintentional home injuries from July 2000 to June 2001, was conducted by the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation on behalf of the Home Safety Council. The leading causes of home injuries include slips and falls, fires and burns and poisoning. Specific employer costs associated with home injuries include:

  • $15.8 billion in employer health care (medical) spending for the one-year timeframe;
  • $11.8 billion for sick leave and disability insurance; and
  • $9.6 billion for costs related to disruption and efforts for training/retraining or hiring new employees.

"The enormous cost of unintentional home injuries may surprise U.S. employers," said Meri-K Appy, president of the Home Safety Council. "Home injuries affect worker morale as well as the company's bottom line. By arming their employees with guidance and information to reduce preventable injuries at home, companies protect their most valued resource: the people whose work they count on every day."

As part of Home Safety Month in June, the Home Safety Council is offering the public free advice and resources to help reduce unintentional injuries in the home. In addition, the Home Safety Council is introducing an online quiz on www.homesafetycouncil.org, where the public can assess their home safety aptitude.

The Home Safety Month checklist features some steps every employee should consider, including:

Fires/Burns

  • Install smoke alarms on every level of your home and in or near all bedrooms, and test the batteries at least once a month so you'll know they are working.
  • Plan a home fire drill and practice it at least twice a year. Memorize the fire department's emergency telephone number.
  • Use safety covers in electrical outlets and anti-scald devices in faucets in homes with young children.

Slips/Falls

  • Make sure all porches, hallways and stairwells are well lit. Use the maximum safe wattage in light fixtures. (Maximum wattage is typically posted inside light fixtures.)
  • Use a non-slip mat, or install strips or decals in bathtubs and showers.
  • Install grab bars in bath and shower stalls.

Poisonings

  • Keep medicines and household chemicals and cleaners up high, out of the reach of children, preferably in a locked cabinet.
  • Install a carbon monoxide detector near sleeping areas in the home.
  • Put your local poison control center number near every phone.

"What we're focusing on during Home Safety Month is simple. We want Americans to be aware of the most common areas that lead to home injuries and to follow some practical tips to prevent them," said Appy. "Employers can help themselves by addressing preventable home injuries with their employees. Together, we have a greater chance of reducing the costs of home injuries."

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