Why should Unions and Health and Welfare Funds care about members smoking? A non-smoking worker is a healthier worker and healthier workers have fewer lost time accidents. A recent study shows that healthy workers have fewer workplace accidents and take less time to get back to work. The study followed over 3,000 workers from 1996 to 1999 and found that healthy workers have fewer workplace injuries and workers' compensation costs. The study ranked employees according to health risks (including physical activity and inactivity, blood pressure, cholesterol, alcohol use, and tobacco use) and found that:
q 8.2% of employees whose health risks were high filed workers' compensation claims compared with 4.9 percent of workers whose health risks were low.
q Of all the health risks studied smoking was the most costly. Workers' compensation costs for a smoker averaged $2,189 compared to $176 for a non-smoker.
While studies such as this encourage employers to make work sites smoke free, the author of the study suggests that worksite smoking cessation classes would more than pay for themselves.
Source: "Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine," July, 2001