Emerging Employee Safety Risk of 2012

Emerging Risk

Emerging Risk
The Centers for Disease Control estimates that 2/3 of the U.S. population is considered overweight or obese. Poor lifestyle decisions not only affect the employee’s health at home, but can also have significant implications on work activities. Many of the disorders related to obesity such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and sleep apnea have a significantly effected several key industries. Obesity and the related conditions can also significantly effect the rate that an employee recovers from injuries compared to an employee with a normal Body Mass Index (BMI).

Chart: Obesity, by Age: United States, 1971-2006

One of the industries especially impacted by the increase in obesity is transportation. Sleep apnea can significantly effect the quality of sleep that a driver receives and could leave the driver feeling drowsy and slow to respond even after being off duty. While sleep apnea can be treated, many cases go undiagnosed or untreated, leaving the driver and public at large in danger. The largely sedentary work of drivers could be a significant contributing factor to obesity and has proven to be a challenge for many employers.

The healthcare industry has also been significantly impacted by the increase of obesity in the population. Many healthcare providers have noticed that the patients they treat continue to grow in weight each year. The physical exertion required to lift or transfer an obese patient can often times lead to back, shoulder and neck injuries. These injuries can lead to significant workers compensation costs, reduced work ability and reduced quality of life at home for the injured healthcare worker. While many healthcare organizations have implemented improved lifting techniques or mechanical means to assist in patient lifts, treating the obese patient continues to be a major concern for employee safety.

This post was part of the special feature about What Risks Will Emerge in 2012? published January 24, 2012. The feature also covered emerging risks in these other fields:
Environmental Liability
Financial Institutions
Life Sciences
Political Risk
Power & Utilities
Renewable Energy
Supply Chain Interruption
Trade Credit


About David Barry

David Barry is the national technical director for Casualty Risk Control, where he provides risk control consulting…
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