Costs and compensation of work-related injuries in British Columbia sawmills
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OBJECTIVE: To estimate the costs of work-related injury in a cohort of sawmill workers in British Columbia from the perspective of the workers' compensation system. METHODS: Hospital discharge records were extracted from 1989 to 1998 for a cohort of 5786 actively employed sawmill workers. A total of 173 work-related injury cases were identified from these records using the International classification of diseases-ninth revision (ICD-9) external cause of injury codes and the responsibility of payment schedule. Workers' compensation records were extracted and matched with hospital records by dates and ICD-9 diagnosis codes. All costs were converted into 1995 constant Canadian dollars using the Provincial General Consumer Price Index for the non-healthcare costs and Medical Consumer Price Index for the healthcare costs. A 5% discounting rate was applied to adjust for the time value of money. For the uncompensated cases, costs were imputed from the compensated cases using the median cost for a similar nature of injury. RESULTS: 370 hospitalisation events due to injury were captured, and by either of the two indicators (E Codes or payment schedules), 173 (47%) hospitalisation events due to injury, were identified as work related. The median healthcare cost was 4377 dollars and the median non-healthcare cost was 16,559 dollars for a work-related injury. The median non-healthcare and healthcare costs by injury were falls, 19,978 dollars and 5185 dollars; struck by falling object, 32,398 dollars and 8625 dollars; struck against, 12,667 dollars and 5741 dollars; machinery related, 26,480 dollars and 6643 dollars; caught in or between, 24,130 dollars and 4389 dollars; and overexertion, 7801 dollars and 2710 dollars. The total cost was 10,374,115 dollars for non-healthcare and 1,764,137 dollars for healthcare. The compensation agency did not compensate 874,871 dollars (8.4%) of the non-healthcare costs and 200,588 dollars (11.4%) of the healthcare costs. CONCLUSION: Eliminating avoidable work-related injury events can save valuable resources.
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