Business Case for Safety and Health


In addition to their social costs, workplace injuries and illnesses have a major impact on an employer's bottom line. It has been estimated that employers pay almost $1 billion per week for direct workers' compensation costs alone. The costs of workplace injuries and illnesses include direct and indirect costs. Direct costs include workers' compensation payments, medical expenses, and costs for legal services. Examples of indirect costs include training replacement employees, accident investigation and implementation of corrective measures, lost productivity, repairs of damaged equipment and property, and costs associated with lower employee morale and absenteeism.

The following resources provide background on the costs of workplace injuries and illnesses and how employers can estimate these costs at their workplaces.

Screen capture of Safety Pays Program. For problems with accessibility in using figures and illustrations, please contact OSHA's Directorate of Cooperative and State Programs at (202) 693-2200.
  • Workers' Compensation Costs of Falls in Construction. OSHA, (2012). Study shows that the average workers' compensation claims costs for falls by roofers and carpenters are more costly than other falls.
  • $afety Pays OSHA. Interactive software that assists employers in assessing the impact of occupational injuries and illnesses on their profitability. It uses a company's profit margin, the average costs of an injury or illness, and an indirect cost multiplier to project the amount of sales a company would need to generate to cover those costs.
  • Safety Pays in Mining. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Estimates the total costs of workplace injuries to a company in the mining industry and the impact of profitability.
  • Business Case for Safety. U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board, (2017). Provides estimates of the costs of four catastrophic chemical incidents.
  • Real Costs of Substance Abuse in Your Workplace: A Substance Use Cost Calculator for Employers. National Safety Council. Provides estimates of the costs of substance abuse in the workplace based on size of employer, industry, and state.
  • The Price of Inaction: A Comprehensive Look at the Costs of Injuries and Fatalities in Maryland's Construction Industry. Public Citizen, (2012). Reviews the economic burden of workplace injuries and fatalities in Maryland's construction industry by estimating the direct, indirect, and quality of life costs resulting from fatal and nonfatal injuries. The report estimates that construction fatalities and injuries cost the Maryland economy $712.8 million from 2008 to 2010.
  • 2018 Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index. Liberty Mutual Insurance Company, (2018). Tracks the causes and costs of the most disabling non-fatal workplace injuries in 2015. Researchers combine information from Liberty Mutual, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the National Academy of Social Insurance to provide a broad snapshot.
  • National Safety Council Injury Facts: Work Injury Costs. Estimates of the cost to the nation, employers, and individuals of work-related deaths and injuries in 2016.
  • Estimating the Costs of Unintentional Injuries. National Safety Council. Illustrates how economic costs of unintentional injuries, including workplace injuries, can be estimated.
  • J. Paul Leigh, Economic Burden of Occupational Injury and Illness in the United States. Milbank Quarterly, Vol. 89, Issue 4, p. 728 (December 2011). Provides estimates of the national costs of occupational injury and illnesses among civilians in the United States for 2007. The total estimated costs were approximately $250 billion.
  • J. Paul Leigh, Steven Markowitz, Marianne Fahs and Phillip Landrigan. "Costs of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses." University of Michigan Press, (2000). Presents estimates of the incidence, prevalence, and costs of workplace fatalities, injuries, and illnesses for the entire civilian workforce of the United States in 1992.
  • The Economic Burden of Occupational Fatal Injuries to Civilian Workers in the United States Based on the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, 1992-2002. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Publication No. 2011-130, (2011). Presents estimates of economic costs of workplace fatalities using revised methods and data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.