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Costs and compensation of work-related injuries in British Columbia sawmills
  1. Hasanat Alamgir1,
  2. Emile Tompa2,
  3. Mieke Koehoorn1,
  4. Aleck Ostry1,
  5. Paul A Demers1
  1. 1University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  2. 2Institute for Work and Health, University avenue, Toronto, Ontario, US
  1. Correspondence to:
 MrH Alamgir
 University of British Columbia, 5804, Fairview Avenue, Vanconver, British Columbia, Canada V6T123; hasanat{at}


Objective: To estimate the costs of work-related injury in a cohort of sawmill workers in British Columbia from the perspective of the workers’ compensation system.

Methods: Hospital discharge records were extracted from 1989 to 1998 for a cohort of 5786 actively employed sawmill workers. A total of 173 work-related injury cases were identified from these records using the International classification of diseases—ninth revision (ICD-9) external cause of injury codes and the responsibility of payment schedule. Workers’ compensation records were extracted and matched with hospital records by dates and ICD-9 diagnosis codes. All costs were converted into 1995 constant Canadian dollars using the Provincial General Consumer Price Index for the non-healthcare costs and Medical Consumer Price Index for the healthcare costs. A 5% discounting rate was applied to adjust for the time value of money. For the uncompensated cases, costs were imputed from the compensated cases using the median cost for a similar nature of injury.

Results: 370 hospitalisation events due to injury were captured, and by either of the two indicators (E Codes or payment schedules), 173 (47%) hospitalisation events due to injury, were identified as work related. The median healthcare cost was $4377 and the median non-healthcare cost was $16 559 for a work-related injury. The median non-healthcare and healthcare costs by injury were falls, $19 978 and $5185; struck by falling object, $32 398 and $8625; struck against, $12 667 and $5741; machinery related, $26 480 and $6643; caught in or between, $24 130 and $4389; and overexertion, $7801 and $2710. The total cost was $10 374 115 for non-healthcare and $1 764 137 for healthcare. The compensation agency did not compensate $874 871 (8.4%) of the non-healthcare costs and $200 588 (11.4%) of the healthcare costs.

Conclusion: Eliminating avoidable work-related injury events can save valuable resources.

  • BCLHD, British Columbia Linked Health Database
  • ICD, International classification of diseases
  • WCB, workers’ compensation board

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  • Published Online First 19 October 2006

  • Funding: This project was funded through a doctoral research training award by WorkSafeBC (Workers’ Compensation Board of British Columbia).

  • Competing interests: None declared.