Cost of Injury

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports 650,000 work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WRMSDs), resulting in costs to employers of over 20 billion dollars. These costs include Worker's Compensation and medical expenses, the latter of which are increasing 2.5 times faster than benefit costs.

  • $1 of every $3 of Worker's Compensation costs are spent on occupational musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs)
  • Employers pay $15-20 billion per year in Worker's Compensation costs for lost workdays.
  • Mean costs per case of upper extremity MSD are $8,070 versus a mean cost of $4,075 per case for all types of work-related injury.
  • Worker's Compensation claims per injury equal $29,000 - $32,000 per year.
  • Medical bills for the average shoulder injury (excluding surgery) are $20,000 per year.

Indirect costs are 3 to 5 times higher, reaching approximately $150 billion per year.

These include absenteeism, staff replacement and retraining, productivity, and/or quality. In sonography alone, the costs are significant.

  • Cost of hiring replacement staff is between $130,000-166,000 per year
  • Estimated average cost to find and hire a new songrapher is $10,500

If an ultrasound exam room is down due to the loss of worker time, the loss of chargeable income can be as much as $4,500 per day, $22,000 per week or $1,170,000 per year in lost revenue.

The increase in MSDs in industry has resulted in research into the causes and in legislation in the U.S. regulating the design of office furniture and duration of video terminal work. Appropriate ergonomic adaptations have been found to effectively reduce the risk of MSD symptoms. Adapting a workstation to each person and his/her work requirements ensures that it functions as intended. Productivity is increased if employees' work areas are arranged to suit them and the type of work being done.

Conclusions:

Dollars spent on improving the ergonomic design of the workstation have an excellent return on investment. This investment leads to improved performance of workers and improved employee well being. Ergonomics provides the foundation for effective management and well-trained workers to perform at their best level, thus increasing productivity and profits.

There are direct and indirect costs associated with an occupational injury, including the medical cost of treating the injury; the cost of replacement staff, as well as the loss of revenue secondary to decreased productivity during time loss.

The following shows the comparison costs of implementing engineering controls suggested for reducing or eliminating risk factors for sonographers versus doing nothing to address work safety for sonographers:

Do nothing:

Costs: Direct & indirect

  • $30,000 for Worker's Compensation costs
  • $29,000 average cost for medical bills, exclude surgery
  • $702,000 in lost revenue (based on 60% reimbursement)
  • $10,500 to recruit a new sonographer

Total: $771,500

Or $166,000 using replacement staff. Total $235,500

Address ergonomics:

Costs: Direct & indirect

  • $7,200 for an ergonomic exam table
  • $755 for an ergonomic chair
  • $250 for support cushions
  • $180,000 for ergonomically-designed ultrasound equipment
  • Priceless - a healthy, competent sonographer

Total: $188,205


References:

  1. Brown E. Ergonomics and repetitive strain injuries.
    On line: http://dea.human.cornell.edu
     
  2. Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov
     
  3. Ergoweb. On line: http://www.ergoweb.com
     
  4. Evanoff B. Testimony submitted to the United States Senate Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health, and Human Services, and Education Special Hearing on Ergonomics, April 2001.
    On line:http://www.senate.gov/-appropriations/labor/
     
  5. Good ergonomics is good economics.
    On line: http://www.aflcio.org/safety/
     
  6. Grieco A, Molteni G, DeVito G, Sias N. Epidemiology of musculoskeletal disorders due to biomechanical overload; Ergonomics; Sept. 1998; 41(9): 1253-60.
     
  7. Hawkins J. Survey seeks to quantify technologists' worth; Advance for Imaging and Radiation Therapy Professionals; July 29, 2003; 11.
     
  8. Melhourn JM. Cumulative trauma disorders and repetitive strain injuries:
    The future; Clin Orthop; June 1998 (351): 107-26
     
  9. Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
    On line:http://www.osha.gov/dcsp/products/etools/hospital/sonography/sonography.html
     
  10. Pike, I, Russo A, Berkowitx J, Baker J, Lessoway V. The prevalence of musculoskeletal disorders among diagnostic medical sonsgraphers; JDMS; 13(5); Sept.-Oct. 1997: 219-27.
     
  11. Schneider M. Franz. Why ergonomics makes a lot of sense from a dollar-
    and-cents standpoint and why it may be inevitable because of legislation.
    On line:http://www.combo.com/ergo/ergoecon/
     
  12. Sound Ergonomics, LLC, http://www.soundergonomics.com
     
  13. Webster BS and Snook SH. The cost of compensable upper extremity cumulative trauma disorders; J Occup Med; 1994;36(7): 713-7.