Most Employers Do Not Track Off-the-Job Injuries or Costs

Oct. 24, 2003
Nearly 60 percent of corporate safety and health professionals believe that the costs of injuries that occur away from work are equal to or greater than the cost of work-related injuries. However, nearly 45 percent of companies do not offer any kind of off-the-job safety program.

These are two of the findings of a Web-based survey conducted by the National Safety Council to determine opinions about off-the-job safety issues.

"Businesses have a vested interest in the safety and health of their employees at work and away from work," said Alan McMillan, president of the National Safety Council. "Employers pay many of the costs associated with medical care, insurance and lost productivity resulting from injuries suffered by employees and their families. Business leaders must recognize that profitability and competitiveness are being affected by these costs."

Pointing out there have been significant advances made in reducing occupational injuries and deaths, McMillan pointed out that more than 80 percent of the 20.4 million disabling injuries, and 95 percent of the 99,500 unintentional injury deaths, suffered in the United States last year were unrelated to work.

"We must take the same focus and intensity that we have applied to workplace safety and apply them to injury prevention in our homes, communities and motor vehicles," he added. "This survey indicates that while a majority of employers may recognize the problem of off-the-job injuries, most are not taking action to alleviate it."

More than 40 percent of the survey's 1,300 respondents said that the costs of off-the-job injuries are greater than the cost of injuries incurred at work, and an additional 20 percent believe the costs are equal. However, the survey found that only 25 percent of respondents' companies keep records on off-the-job injuries. Just one-third of those that keep records track injuries of employees' dependents.

More than half of the respondents said their company offered some promotion of off-the-job safety, but nearly 45 percent said their companies offered no off-the-job information of any kind. Among the areas respondents indicated may be of interest for off-the-job safety information and education are motor vehicle safety, falls, burns, overexertion and sports injuries.

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