“Off-the-clock” injuries costing employers billions

U.S. study shows firms spend $376 Cdn per employee to pay for injuries that occur at home

Injuries on the job are expensive for organizations and hurt productivity. But it’s not just safe workplaces employers need to be concerned about. “Off-the-clock” injuries — those occurring at home — can have a significant impact on the bottom-line.

In the June 2, 2003 issue, Canadian HR Reporter took a look at the problem. To read that article, click on the “Related Articles” link below. Now a new U.S. study, conducted by the Home Safety Council, shows American firms are spending an average of $376 Cdn per employee to help pay for injuries that employees and their dependents suffer at home.

This resulted in an annual $51 billion financial burden to U.S. employers, almost double the $26.2 billion employers endure for “off-the-clock” highway injuries.

The high cost of home injuries

The study, conducted by the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation on behalf of the Home Safety Council, looked at the costs of unintentional home injuries from July 2000 to June 2001. Specific employer costs associated with this issue include:

•Employer health care (medical) spending was $21.2 billion for the one-year timeframe;

•$15.8 billion was spent on sick leave and disability insurance; and

•$12.9 billion was spent on costs related to disruption and efforts for training and retraining or hiring new employees.

Meri-K Appy, president of the Home Safety Council, said the enormous cost of home injuries may surprise many employers.

“Home injuries affect worker morale as well as the company’s bottom line,” said Appy. “By arming their employees with guidance and information to reduce preventable injuries at home, companies protect their most-valued resource: the people whose work they count on everyday.”

Safety checklist

The Home Safety Council has a number of free resources for employers, including tips to give employees on preventing the three most common home injuries: slips and falls, poisonings and fire and burns.

The checklist features steps every employee should consider, including:

Fires and burns

•Install smoke alarms on every level of the home and in or near all bedrooms and test the batteries at least once a month to ensure they are working.

•Plan a home fire drill and practice it at least twice a year. Memorize the fire department’s emergency telephone number.

•Use safety covers in electrical outlets and anti-scald devices in faucets in homes with young children.

Slips and falls

•Make sure all porches, hallways and stairwells are well lit. Use the maximum safe wattage in light fixtures (maximum wattage is typically posted inside light fixtures.)

•Use a non-slip mat, or install strips or decals in bathtubs and showers.

•Install grab bars in both bath and shower stalls.


•Keep medicines and household chemicals and cleaners up high, out of the reach of children, preferably in a locked cabinet.

•Install a carbon monoxide detector near sleeping areas in the home.

•Put the local poison control centre number near every phone.

The Home Safety Council is a not-for-profit organization based in Wilkesboro, N.C. The council has put a quiz on it’s Web site, at www.homesafetycouncil.org, where employees can take assess their home safety aptitude.

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