Workers who are injured on the job badly enough to qualify for “lost-time” benefits are at increased risk of premature death, according to a new study led by a Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) researcher.
The study, published online in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine, found that workers who suffer lost-time injuries—defined as those that require more than seven days off from work or that result in permanent disability—have an elevated mortality risk. The research team linked non-fatal injury cases in New Mexico’s workers’ compensation system with Social Security data on earnings and mortality.
The study found that, by the end of 20 years, 15.1 percent of men who had “lost-time” injuries had died, compared to 10.6 of male workers who received “medical only” benefits (for injuries that required seven or fewer days off and entailed no permanent disability). Similarly, among women, 11 percent of those who had lost-time injuries died, compared to 7 percent of women with medical-only injuries.
“This is the first U.S. study of the relationship between non-fatal occupational injuries and mortality,” said lead author Dr. Les Boden, professor of environmental health. “This increase in the risk of death related to non-fatal occupational injuries adds an extra dimension to what we already know about the harm caused by workplace hazards.”
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