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Injury and Illness Prevention Programs (I2P2) and What it Means for Your Organization – Part 4

Illness Prevention

In our last installment of the I2P2 series, we looked at the economic burden that workplace injuries create for both the company and the country as a whole. In this episode, we will evaluate the cost of illness on employers.

It is easy to write off illness as being a “personal” issue that is not work related. And although most can agree that illness does affect a personals productivity that is where the overlay ends. However, this is changing. In a world where healthcare dollars are coving less and less, the next place people start looking on who is responsible to the costs, the employer will be called into the mix.

Recent landmark cases are demonstrating that this is becoming more and more common. For example a New Jersey appeals court ruled that the husband of an obese woman who developed a blood clot after working long hours at her home office and subsequently died was eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.

The women weighed over 300 pounds and had recently begun a birth control regimen, both factors that increase developing blood clots. A medical expert explained that these factors contributed to her death and thus attributing the cause of her death to desk work should be perceived with extreme skepticism. However, a lawyer pointed out that a long episode of desk work is a “risk in and of itself.” The appellate court agreed.

As the lines between work related injury/illness are becoming less clear, it becomes yet another reason to consider having a successful and effective injury/illness prevention plan in place.

In the study, published in the April issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, researchers showed that for many conditions, the costs of presenteeism were far greater than other employer-related health care costs, such as absenteeism or health and disability benefits.

For example, presenteeism due to headaches accounted for 89% of the total cost of productivity losses using average estimates and 49% using low estimates. For allergies, the costs of on-the-job productivity losses accounted for as much as 82% and as little as 55%.

“All in all, this means that from about one-fifth to three-fifths of the total dollars attributable to common health conditions faced by employers appear to be the result of on-the-job productivity losses,” says Ron Goetzel, Director of the Institute for Health and Productivity Studies at Emory University.

When other costs were added to losses from presenteeism, absenteeism, or health and disability benefits, the most expensive condition for employers was high blood pressure, with an annual cost of $392 per employee per year, followed by heart disease ($368), mental health problems ($348), arthritis ($327), and allergies ($271).

As indicated above, the costs for illness at the workplace is quite substantial! In addition, as more and more “personal” health issues are becoming deemed “work related” the cost to the employer is sure to rise. It helps to demonstrate how important the implementation of an illness & Injury Prevention plan can be for your bottom line! For more information please talk with one of our team members.

To recap, here are some of the economic reasons to consider implementation of an I2P2 plan for your organization:

Decreased Work Comp Costs

  • The average direct cost of a workplace injury is $38,000, with indirect costs adding 3 -30 times more.

Decreased Healthcare costs;

  • Studies show that for every $1 invested a $3-6 decrease in Healthcare costs.
  • Preventable illness makes up approximately 80% of the burden of illnesses and 90% of all health care costs

Increased Productivity

  • 75 percent of lost productivity is related to employee lifestyle choices (absenteeism, presenteeism, etc)

Increased Competitive Advantage

  • Employees eight times more likely to be engaged, four times more likely to be retained
  • Companies with an I2P2 plan gain a better reputation in the marketplace.

Decreased Risk of Injury

  • 30 percent to 32 percent of claims are linked to preventable conditions.

Increased Compliance

  • The Injury & Illness Prevention Plan OSHA guidelines are due out in 2012.

We hope this series has offered you insight into the I2P2 process. It can be overwhelming, but as it becomes more and more expensive for injury and illness at the workplace, it is nice to know that simple programs can be put in place to mitigate the risk and control the cost. For more information on how InjuryFree’s health and safety solutions can give your organization a proactive approach to illness and injury prevention, contact an InjuryFree team member via email or at (800) 445-3519 today!

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