Monday July 28 6:42 AM EDT

Study: Thousands Die of Job Injuries, Diseases

CHICAGO (Reuter) - Workplace injuries and diseases claimed the lives of nearly 70,000 American workers in 1992, and the costs from work-related health problems totaled more than $170 billion that year, according to a study.

In what researchers said was the first study of its kind to compile the perils faced by U.S. workers, they said there were 6,529 job-related deaths due to injury in 1992 and roughly 60,300 deaths from illnesses contracted while working.

Of the fatal injuries, 40 percent were caused by transportation accidents, 20 percent were caused by assaults and violent acts, 10 percent were related to falls, 5 percent were electrocutions, and 3 percent were traced to fires and explosions.

An additional 13.2 million job-related injuries were not fatal, and there were an estimated 862,200 non-fatal illnesses.

"Some risk of injury or illness attends virtually every job held by the 120 million Americans who work," study author and economist Paul Leigh of San Jose State University and Stanford University Medical Center wrote.

The study was published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, a journal published by the American Medical Association. The authors used 1992 as a base year, using analyses of data from several government agencies and other studies.

It estimated the total cost of occupational injuries and illnesses at $171 billion -- which included medical expenses, worker's compensation payments and the cost of disruption caused by missed work. It did not include the cost of pain and suffering, home care or other expenses.

In comparison, the 1992 costs from Alzheimer's disease were estimated at $87 billion, AIDS at roughly $30 billion, and costs from heart disease were put at about $164 billion.

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