Lesson 6: The Burden of Injury and Illness

Lesson 6: The Burden of Injury and Illness

According to the CDC ( “ Workers ’ Memorial Day . . . , ” 2009), a total of 5,488 U.S. workers died from occupational injuries in 2007. In addition, 49,000 workers died from work – related diseases. An estimated four million workers were involved in a nonfatal occupational injury or illness, resulting in half of this total being transferred, restricted, or forced to take time off from work. Injuries and illnesses represent one of the most serious public health problems facing our country and especially our workplaces. These numbers do not include the very large numbers of workers incubating chronic diseases in the workplace.

The CDC ( “ Workers ’ Memorial Day . . . , ” 2009) also reports that an estimated 3.4 million workers visited emergency departments in 2004 because of occupational injuries, and eighty thousand of these visits resulted in hospitalizations. Work – related injuries and illnesses are very expensive for employers. In 2006, employers spent $ 87.6 billion on workers ’ compensation and lost a tremendous amount of productivity because of time away from work.

These work – related injuries are for the most part preventable, but the effort will require an investment in time and money by the employer. Fielding and Briss (2006) explain the fact that many improvements in health result from evidence – informed programs that affect the likelihood of acquiring a disease, the severity of the disease, and the receipt of appropriate and timely medical care. Prevention programs should improve the quality of life, reduce the incidence or severity of a disease or injury, and reduce premature death through early detection or interventions to reduce risks or exposures associated with incidence.
The CDC (Gorsky & Teutsch, 1995) has developed an approach to preventive health program evaluation called the Basic Assessment Scheme for Intervention Costs and Consequences. This is a very rational approach to developing an evaluation strategy that looks at both what a program or other intervention uses in resources and how it performs.

The success of prevention activities is be defined by their effectiveness in delaying or averting morbidity and mortality from illness or injury. According to Gorsky and Teutsch (1995) prevention effectiveness integrates the best available information into evaluating the choices made for averting illness and injury in the workplace.
The BASICC model offers an excellent approach to the evaluation of preventive health initiatives for use in the workplace. Consider, for example, needing to evaluate a smoking cessation program. According to “ Annual Smoking- Attributable Mortality . . . , ” 2005), tobacco use is one of the leading causes of preventable mortality in the United States. In determining the effectiveness of a smoking cessation program, it would make sense to include averted poor health outcomes as an important part of the evaluation process.

 

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