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Do costs matter in occupational health?
  1. Alex Burdorf
  1. Correspondence to Professor Dr Alex Burdorf, Department of Public Health, Erasmus MC, PO Box 2040, Rotterdam 3000 CA, The Netherlands; a.burdorf{at}erasmusmc.nl

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Many studies have documented the adverse effects of hazardous working conditions on the health of occupational populations. Occupational injuries and work-related disorders contribute substantially to morbidity and mortality in the workforce as well as in the general population. Adequate control measures in the workplace are required to prevent work-related burden of disease. The progress in occupational health has been documented, among others, by a steady reduction in chemical exposure at the workplace1 as well as a decline in excess mortality attributable to work.2

In more recent years, the economic consequences of illness and disease have emerged as a key area of research, whereby cost of illness studies have invariably reported that the disease of interest will result in considerable indirect costs due to disability, sickness absence and productivity loss at work and that there is a clear need for investments in occupational health and safety.3 The latest development is the increase in the number of studies on cost-effectiveness and cost–benefits of interventions, illustrating how much gains in health or productivity can be achieved and at what costs. Recent exemplary studies in Occupational and Environmental Medicine have reported on the costs and benefits of preventive interventions aimed at reducing occurrence and duration of sickness absence.4 5 These studies demonstrate the need for a more unified approach to economic evaluations of occupational health interventions.6 In the linked study, Meijster and colleagues present a general framework for a comprehensive cost …

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