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Study: Injuries Cause Rise in Overdoses, Suicides

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

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In a study co-authored by researchers from Boston University’s School of Public Health, suicides and opioid overdoses are showing an increase in relation to workplace injuries.

The article has since been published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine.

About the Study

Sprouting from a previous Boston University study conducted in 2016—concluding that more than 20% of men and women were more likely to die from any cause after experiencing at least a week off work due to a workplace injury—the new article highlights how roles of suicide and opioids play as major causes of death in correlation to experiencing workplace injuries.

Over the course of the most recent study, researchers looked at 100,806 workers in New Mexico to estimate the association between workplace injury and death. Of the workers included in the study, 36,034 were reported to have experienced injuries causing lost worktime from 1994 through 2000.

In addition to this information, researchers also compiled workers’ compensation data for the six-year period, Social Security Administration earnings and mortality data through 2013 and National Death Index cause of death data through 2017.

Boston University

In a study co-authored by researchers from Boston University’s School of Public Health, suicides and opioid overdoses are showing an increase in relation to workplace injuries.

“These findings suggest that work-related injuries contribute to the rapid increase in deaths from both opioids and suicides,” says study senior author Leslie Boden, professor of environmental health.

“Prior research has shown that injured workers are at increased risk of depression, have been treated frequently with opioids, and have suffered long-term earnings losses. This led us to wonder whether workplace injuries led to increased opioid addiction and suicide.”

According to the university’s research, 72% of men were more likely to die from suicide and 29% more likely to die from drug-related causes when they were reported to have lost-time due to a work-related injury. Additionally, the same men studied also showed an increased rate of death from cardiovascular disease.

When studying women who experienced time lost from injuries, 92% were more likely to commit suicide, while 193% were more likely to die from drug-related causes.

In cases where employees were reported to have taken at least a week off from work due to serious injury, research showed that the combined risk of suicide and overdose deaths tripled among women and increased by 50% in men.

“Improved pain treatment, better treatment of substance use disorders, and treatment of post-injury depression may substantially improve quality of life and reduce mortality from workplace injuries,” Boden suggested.

The study’s lead author was Katie Applebaum of the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University. Co-authors include: Yorghos Tripodis, research associate professor of biostatistics; Andrew Busey, of the Boston University Department of Economics; Abay Asfaw, of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; and Paul O’Leary, of the US Social Security Administration’s Office of Retirement and Disability Policy.

Previous Studies and Promoting Workplace Safety

Last year, PaintSquare Daily News reported that construction and extraction industries held the highest rate of male suicide among American workers.

The information was brought to the publication through the release of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, which included statistics from the 2012 and 2015 National Violent Death Reporting System.

Data for the report examined 22,053 suicides of people ages 16-64 from 17 states, noting that the data might not necessary be nationally representative. However, the suicide rate among the U.S. working-age population did show a 34% increase overall during 2000-2016.

“Increasing suicide rates in the U.S. are a concerning trend that represent a tragedy for families and communities and impact the American workforce,” said Deb Houry, M.D., M.P.H., director, CDC National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.

“Knowing who is at greater risk for suicide can help save lives through focused prevention efforts.”

According to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, "[I]f all employers simply corrected the top 10 hazards, we are confident the number of deaths, amputations and hospitalizations would drastically decline.”

Referring to OSHA’s yearly list of the top 10 most frequent workplace safety violations, the most recent list from 2018 ranks as follows:

  1. Fall protection, construction;
  2. Hazard communication standard, general industry;
  3. Scaffolding, general requirements, construction;
  4. Respiratory protection, general industry;
  5. Control of hazardous energy (lockout/tagout), general industry;
  6. Ladders, construction;
  7. Powered industrial trucks, general industry;
  8. Fall protection — training requirements;
  9. Machinery and machine guarding, general requirements; and
  10. Eye and face protection.

In addition to the list, OSHA also provides employers with on-site consultation programs that provide free and confidential compliance assistance. The Administration also has various worldwide OSHA Training Institute Education Centers that offer courses about hazard recognition and abatement and are offered to workers, employers and managers.


Tagged categories: Asia Pacific; Colleges and Universities; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Fatalities; Good Technical Practice; Health and safety; Latin America; North America; OSHA; PaintSquare App - Commercial; Research; Safety; Z-Continents

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