365 Costs of work disability and managing occupational safety and health: evidence from finland

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IntroductionWork disability is a fundamental problem in ageing societies. In its various forms, this incurs substantial costs for employers and the society. Better identification of the work disability would presumably encourage employers to pay attention to its prevention. This study explores first the costs that work disability (disability pension, accidents at work, absence from work due to illness, occupational health care) incurs in the public sector in Finland. Second it is analysed how employers could reduce work disability and related costs.MethodsCalculation of the total costs of work disability among the public sector employers in Finland. Assessments have been made about organisation’s actions to minimise these costs.ResultThe costs of work disability represent an average of 10% of the total salaries paid by the organisations in the study. There are considerable differences in costs between various organisations. The differences may be caused by differences in age, gender and job structures as well as the employers’ methods to prevent work disability. The costs caused by absence from work due to illness form the largest category.DiscussionBetter identification of costs might help reduce work disability and the related costs. Organisations could achieve significant savings and improvements in productivity by focusing on reducing work disability. The society would benefit from reducing work disability in terms of longer working careers. A financial perspective is a useful approach when the objective is to reduce work disability and the resulting costs. Presently, there are many challenges related to the data on work disability and analysing it. However, digitalisation obviously leads to significant improvements here in the near future.

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