Northwest Labor Press, April 17, 1998, Page 6
Name the most costly epidemic in the U.S. today.
Cancer? --- Wrong!
Alzheimer's? --- Wrong!
AIDS? Heart Disease? --- Wrong and wrong again!
Workplace deaths and injuries top the cost of major diseases.
Work-related accidents and illnesses cost the U.S. a whopping $65 billion, plus another $106 billion in "indirect costs" (including lost wages) in 1992, according to an Archives of Internal Medicine report.
The $171 billion total yearly price tag towers above the $30 billion annual cost of AIDS and the $67.3 billion cost of Alzheimer’s, the study found. Job-related injuries and illnesses also cost the U.S. more than all forms of heart disease ($164.3 billion annually) and cancer ($170.7 billion).
The big tragedy is that job-related deaths and injuries are almost always preventable, with proper training and regular workplace inspections. In virtually every instance, there are clear, identifiable hazards that could have been fixed long before anyone was hurt, union officials said.
But conservative lawmakers in Washington, D.C., have taken aim at enforcement by introducing the Safety Advancement for Employees Act, which would shift OSHA's focus away from strong enforcement to voluntary compliance. The bill would hamper OSHA’s ability to set standards for emerging hazards and authorize citations against workers, but not employers, violate OSHA standards.