Increased all-cause mortality following occupational injury: a comparison of two states

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Occupational and environmental medicine




epidemiology; mortality; occupational health; public health


OBJECTIVES: To measure the impact of lost-time occupational injuries on all-cause mortality in Washington State and, using the same data elements and study design, to determine whether the estimated impact was similar to previous estimates for New Mexico. METHODS: We linked injuries in the Washington workers' compensation system with Social Security Administration data on earnings and mortality. We estimated Cox survival models of mortality for women and men with lost-time compared with medical-only injuries, adjusting for age, pre-injury earnings and industry. We used quantitative bias analysis to account for confounding by pre-injury smoking and obesity. RESULTS: The estimated mortality HR was 1.24 for women (95% CI 1.21 to 1.28) and 1.22 for men (95% CI 1.20 to 1.24). After adjusting for unmeasured pre-injury smoking and obesity, the estimated HR for women was 1.10, 95% simulation interval (SI) 1.00 to 1.21; for men, it was 1.15, 95% SI 1.04 to 1.27. CONCLUSIONS: All-cause mortality for Washington workers with lost-time injuries was higher than for those with medical-only injuries. Estimated HRs for Washington were consistent with those previously estimated for New Mexico, a less populous state with lower median wages and a different workers' compensation insurance mechanism. This suggests that the relationship between workplace injury and long-term mortality may be generalisable to other US states. These findings support greater efforts to enhance safety and to investigate factors that improve postinjury employment opportunities and long-term health. This association should be examined in additional locations, with different study conditions, or using additional data on pre-injury risk factors.


Environmental and Occupational Health