Reasons of Illness and Injuries Analysis
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Nowadays the U.S. economy faces a serious inherent problem: decreasing working process because of increasing rate of illness and injuries among workers. However, the rate of illness and injuries varies in different fields of economy, in governmental and local sector. This paper will discuss the reasons of illness and injuries that became the most relevant in modern life. Also, the paper will describe the specifics of the professions with the highest rates of day misses and the differences of the working process in the governmental, private sector and in the health care providing organizations. At the end, special recommendations for all these spheres will be made on the basis of figures from different statistical researches.
During the last decades, more and more Americans suffer from different illnesses. Consequently, this has an influence not only on demographics of the nation, but also on the economy of the whole country. With the increasing number of days-away-from-work cases because of illnesses less work is performed. The country loses millions of dollars not only on health care providence, but also because of non-performed tasks.
The overall productivity of the nation is decreasing greatly. Therefore, it means that American products and manufacturing cannot be competitive on the international market. So, less American goods will be demanded and the country will receive less money; as a result, the U.S. will not afford to implement health protection and health care programs. It is some kind of closed circle. If people work less, fewer facilities for improvement of working process will be applicable. This situation concerns all stakeholder groups: physician consumers, employers’ consumers and government.
The workplace expenses include both direct and indirect costs. Among direct costs are compensational payments to workers, costs for legal services and medical expenses. Indirect costs include accident investigations, repairs of damaged property and equipment, training or replacement of employees, lost productivity, and implementation of corrective measures in order to avoid incidents in future (Cost, n.d.).
According to different research organizations’ studies, the cost of disability and workers compensation diminish the economy of the USA on about a half trillion dollars a year. The ‘lost productivity’ from workers’ absenteeism because of illness is about 39% ($227 billion) of that amount; replacement costs take about $117 billion; pharmacy related and medical treatment is about $232 billion (Japsen, 2012).
There are different reasons of increasing illnesses of working population: constant stresses, bad ecology, congenital diseases (for example, such chronic conditions as heart diseases, diabetes that can lead to prolonged illness), overwork, instable economy that do not provide confidence for future, criminalization of society and etc. The reasons can vary depending on the place of living, character of performed tasks, personal health and healthcare of the individual about himself.
However, there is one factor that aggravates the situation in the last decades – overtime work and extended working hours influence greatly on the health of people (Dembe, Erickson, Delbos, & Banks, 2005). According to different investigations, people who work with overtime schedules have 61% higher injury hazard rate compared with those who work without overtime (Dembe et al., 2005). Working 12 hours a day or more is associated with increasing hazard rate on 37%, working 60 hours per week is associated with increasing hazard rate on 23%. Indeed, special overtime allowances are applicable for different works. However, this money cannot fully compensate the harmful effect on the health. In order to prevent work injuries special changes in working practices and job design should be made (Dembe et al., 2005).
Additionally, there is a difference between percentage rates of the workers of different age. The employees age 45-54 has the highest proportion of illnesses and injure – 26% of total cases. However, in private industries, the workers aged 16-19 and 65 and over have the higher cases of illness than the others. In manufacturing, the rate of illnesses of workers aged 55-64 increases on 6% in 2011 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012). This proportion shows that there are different demands for working groups in the different spheres. When the worker has a lot of days away from work because of illnesses, his employer loses profit and pays less money to the employee.
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Private industry organizations provide less health protection and implementation of healthcare providing programs for the young generation and for retirees. So, these groups of people have the highest rate of injuries and illness. However, the workers could not perform their tasks well when they have problems with their health. So, the quality of their work becomes lower. The statistical information that concerns manufacturing professions is also logical. In the age of 55-64, people could not perform the same work that they did when they were younger. More time is needed for the rest. However, the employee’s experience compensates decreasing productivity.
The nature of illness is also different. About 38% cases that required days away from work were because of sprains, tears and strains; about 12% of cases concerned soreness. Among others were multiple injuries with fractures, amputations, and carpal tunnel syndrome. So, it is notable that most of these cases concern labor performing and overexertion in lifting or lowering. Accordingly, comprehensive automation of working process and toughening of health protection precautions can decrease the rate of these cases.
Laborers who work in private industry have a rate of incidents of 353 cases per 10,000 full time workers. It is about three times more than the rate of all private industry workers. Recuperation of laborers takes about 9 days. This is connected with higher demands for laborers and worse working conditions. Private companies want to save money on everything, even on health of their employees. Consequently, they provide less health care protection programs and have higher requirements for the performed tasks, and pay less money than governmental institutions.
In government organizations, the correctional officers have one of the highest rates of illnesses and injuries (629 cases per 10,000 full-time workers compared to rate of 183 illness for all state government works). In local governments, 15% of the 200,330 days away from work are occupied by the police officers. The incidents rate is also extremely high: 659 cases per 10,000 full time workers. Abovementioned two professions are connected with extremely risky situations. In order to decrease the rate of cases of injuries, the government should provide better protection for these specialists.
An incidence rate of 565 cases per 10,000 full-time workers (about 9% of the cases in local governments) is represented by janitors and cleaners. This is explained by the hard specifics of these professions and high exercise stress. Nowadays, a lot of automatically cleaning mechanisms are widely implemented in different organizations that help to perform cleaning procedures without hard physical activity. Wide implementation of these mechanisms would make easier the work of cleaners and would decrease the rate of illnesses.
In the private sector, the number of days away cases because of illness and injuries decreased on 3% in 2011: an incidence rate is 105 cases on 10,000. This is related to better health acre providing and stronger control from health organizations. Among the industries, 100,000 cases are social assistance and health care – 171,530 cases; manufacturing industry – 129,030 cases and retail trade – 126,550 cases. About one third of the cases concerned with the interruption with ill patient and about 15% of cases concern to violence and injures by persons and animal. It is almost impossible to eliminate communication of health care providers with ill patients. However, it can be decreased as much as possible and special preventive measures (additional vaccination) can be implemented into the working process.
The highest private industry incidence rate had the transportation industry in 2011: 226 cases on 10,000. This is concerned with high risks of injuries and bad environment. Additional measures and programs should be implemented and thoroughly checked.
Nursing aids, orderlies and attendants are among the occupations that had incidents rate greater than 300 cases per 10,000 full time employees and more than 20,000 days away from work cases. This is concerned with overtime shifts, physical and psychological pressure. The representatives of these specializations have lot of responsibility on people’s life and health. Because of high rate of illness and injuries, they cannot perform their responsibilities effectively and efficiently, some negligence may arise concerning to patients. The health care system should implement additional health care programs to support these workers. Operational schedule should be changed in order to provide more rest hours. The amount of workers should be enough to avoid additional workload and overtimes.
However, these innovations require additional expenses from the side of health care institutions. More working places should be created. On one side, more money would be spend for new employees, but on the other side, more working places would be created and more student from the universities would be able to find job. The implementation of such programs would help to avoid any negligence while providing health care; would facilitate rendering better medical attendance to ill people and increase rate of convalescents. So, initial investments for creating new working places for health care providers would be covered by the increasing quality of their work.
Nowadays, special programs are implemented in health care institutions for increasing quality of performed work and rendered health care providing services. Special IT technologies are widely implemented in order to decrease contact of ill patients and providers and to define diseases in the most accurate and quickest way. Also, special disease control and prevention notifications become more popular in order to stop illness on its origin and avoid further spreading (Prospects of lobbies in the field of a healthcare institution, n.d.).
However, even if all these measures will be implemented in the best way and will be thoroughly checked, the effect will be seen only within several years. In the nearest three years, the situation may change only a little and the rate of cases may decrease only on small percentage (on 5-10 %), because of several reasons. Firstly, it would be hard to implement all abovementioned measures into life in governmental structures and oblige to implement these measures in the private structures. Secondly, specially checking commissions should be created in order to survey and supervise health protecting measures and facilities. Thirdly, billions of dollars are necessary. Lastly, the decreasing of illness and injury rate is a very slow process and considerable effect would be seen only in at least 5-10 years.
Every year government and private organizations lose billions of dollars because of illness and injury cases and non-working days of employees. There are different reasons of increasing rate of illnesses and they vary depending on field of working process. In order to decrease these processes, a huge amount of money should be spend now and different health providing measures should be implemented; for instance, decreasing amount of overtime works, providing workers with larger amount of shifts and creation of additional working places. The considerable effect from these implementations would be seen within several years. However, considerable steps should be performed today in order to improve the situation with illness and injuries in the future.