RISK INSIGHT: Vigilance is Key in Protecting Employees from Workplace Hazards

Property & Casualty, Risk

An average of 50,000 deaths related to occupational diseases occur each year in the United States.Are your employees safe? As their employer, it’s your responsibility to be aware of and protect them from the hazards they face while working.

An occupational disease is any chronic or acute ailment that occurs as a result of work or occupational activity, such as a disease or disorder caused by working conditions. This means that the disease or disorder must have developed due to exposures in the workplace and that the correlation between the exposures and the disease or disorder is well known in medical research.

Industries commonly impacted by occupational disease and/or health hazards include heavy manufacturing, metal fabrication, machining, food manufacturing/processing, foundries, construction/concrete, chemical manufacturing, and wood working and processing. Unique exposures may occur in medical settings, hospitals, dental offices, and clinical applications associated with common chemicals used for medical treatments (e.g. lead, mercury, anesthetic gases, formaldehyde, etc.). Additionally, indoor air quality can be a nuisance in office or commercial buildings when not properly maintained and, in some circumstances, a validated health hazard when certain events occur (i.e., water intrusion, construction activities, malfunctioning or poorly maintained HVAC equipment, poor water management program, or faulty construction design and installation).

How does this impact your business and your insurance?

Reduction in production and quality are not uncommon, coupled with increased absenteeism and turnover when employees are overexposed to health hazards. To make matters worse, workers’ compensation claims associated with occupational diseases are extremely expensive.  Below is a list of the average costs (direct and indirect) associated with such claims according to the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI):

  • Cancer  = $184,000
  • Asbestosis = $142,000
  • Hearing loss = $35,000
  • Contagious disease = $39,000
  • Dust disease = $66,000
  • Asphyxiation = $450,000
  • Dermatitis (skin reaction) = $22,000
  • Heat exhaustion = $54,000
  • Chemical poisoning = $122,000
  • Metals poisoning = $59,000
  • Respiratory disorder = $52,000

As the only insurance agency in Wisconsin – and one of just four agencies in the entire country – to have a Certified Industrial Hygienist on staff full-time, M3’s clients have access to unique resources to help keep their employees safe from occupational diseases.  Contact your M3 Account Executive for more information.

1 Leigh, J. Paul, “Economic Burden of Occupational Injury and Illness in the United States”, The Milbank Quarterly, vol. 89, No. 4, pp. 728-772, 2011, and Steenland, et al, “Dying for Work: The Magnitude of US mortality from selected causes of death associated with occupation,” American Journal of Industrial Medicine, 2003.

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