Population-Based Survey Reveals Work Injury Rates

Median 5.9 per 100 workers injured; workers' comp pays in a median 61 percent of cases
By Beth Gilbert
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, July 30 (HealthDay News) -- A module added to the 2007 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) survey by 10 states found that the proportion of workers work-injured in the previous year ranged from 4.0 to 6.9 per 100 employed individuals, and that the proportion of these cases paid for by workers' compensation ranged from 47 to 77 percent, according to a report published in the July 30 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

The report summarizes results from the 10 states that added the module to their BRFSS surveys. According to the report, few population-based estimates of nonfatal occupational injury rates exist on a state level, and in the few extant studies, self-reported rates are higher than those reported by employers or workers' compensation systems.

The findings revealed that the proportion of workers who were work-injured during the prior 12 months ranged from 4.0 work-injured persons per 100 employed persons in Kentucky to 6.9 in New York, with a median of 5.9. In addition, the proportion of self-reported work-injured persons for whom workers' compensation paid for medical treatment ranged from 47 percent in Texas to 77 percent in Kentucky, with a median of 61 percent. The report's authors note that the findings demonstrate the feasibility of using population-based surveys to complement existing occupational injury surveillance.

"States that wish to enhance existing occupational injury surveillance should consider similar studies. Additional research is needed to understand the reasons for nonpayment of worker-reported occupational injuries by workers' compensation insurance programs," the authors write.

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