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Safety Pays in Mining

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Safety Pays in Mining



Safety Pays in Mining is a free online web application which demonstrates how avoiding occupational injuries impacts the success of a mine company. With user input, it estimates the total cost of occupational injuries to a mine and its effect on profitability. Safety Pays in Mining also gives examples of how a company could spend the savings from occupational injuries that are prevented. Since its launch in February 2017, the Safety Pays in Mining web application has received nearly 5,000 visits. Safety managers from numerous mine companies have provided positive feedback on the benefits of using the web app to justify the purchase of safety interventions.

The Safety Pays in Mining web application uses aggregate injury cost data to show cost distributions for typical injuries that can affect mine workers. The cost data are derived from a decade of compensation claims filed by mine workers in Ohio. This web application brings awareness to companies about the unknown costs of injuries and the distribution of these costs. This web app educates users on a wide range of occupational injury costs. Mine companies will find it beneficial to see the distribution of workers’ compensation injury costs as well as the indirect costs which are often overlooked. The web app demonstrates that even a common injury has the potential to be extremely expensive. Safety Pays in Mining can be used by mine companies to help with determining possible injury costs and prioritizing health and safety interventions.


Safety Pays in Mining was designed to enable users to enter their own cost, sales and profit margin values or to use the default values based on the mining industry to show the impact on profits. The web app brings awareness to what specific injuries such as burns, fractures, dislocations and sprains might cost a mine — from $820 for an ankle sprain, $22,500 for a fractured hand, to more than $45,000 for a sprained shoulder.

The direct costs data show how the costs of specific injuries are widely distributed. With the mean direct cost higher than the 75th percentile for every injury and higher than the 90th percentile for half of the injuries, this shows that every injury has a few cases of extremely high costs. Generally, costs will be between the first and third quartiles, but it is important to be aware that there are those high-cost cases. Allowing the app user to choose direct cost percentile based on number of injuries or their own risk profile allows users to explore the various costs per injury and how these costs can impact the financial success of a company.

Safety Pays in Mining is intended for mine managers, safety managers, consultants, researchers, government agencies and students — or anyone who is interested in the costs of specific injuries in the mining industry. Mines can benefit the most from the app, as it can help them prioritize safety and health interventions and focus on areas for improvement. Mines may want to focus on eliminating the higher-cost injuries first. By showing the additional sales needed to cover the injury cost and providing examples of how money could be spent instead of paying for an injury, the app presents the same information in different terms, which can be useful for safety managers who do not have experience analyzing financial aspects of the industry. They can also use the app to assist with cost-benefit analysis for safety budget allocations to help justify purchasing personal protective equipment, enrolling in safety programs, or obtaining engineering controls to reduce exposure to injury


The costs of specific types of occupational injuries in mining are not well known. This information is generally not shared between mining companies nor readily provided by insurance companies. Therefore, companies only have cost information based on previous injury experience with their own employees. As one example, if a mine never experienced a finger amputation for one of its workers, it would not be aware of the possible costs of this type of injury. In addition, injury costs are unique in that the cost distribution is so wide—just using an average cost does not provide adequate information. Some injuries involve tremendously high costs. Even though the risk of these extremely high-cost injuries is low, mines need to be aware of their potential impact on their financial health.

The Safety Pays in Mining web application, developed by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), assists mines in determining potential injury costs and the distribution of these costs. The application groups injuries by type, either by the cause of injury or by the nature of the injury itself. When the user selects one of over 30 injury types, the web application provides information on the distribution of costs of workers’ compensation claims for that type of injury. Based on other user inputs, the web app will estimate the total costs of all projected injuries, including an estimate of additional "indirect" costs, the impact of total injury costs on profits, and examples of ways that companies could spend the savings resulting from preventing injuries.


To calculate direct costs, which include medical expenses and lost-time payments, NIOSH researchers obtained cost data for specific injuries from the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. Compensation claims for (de-identified) mining industry workers from 2001 to 2011 were used for the cost estimates. These claims included both medical-only and lost-time claims for each injury. Only injury types with more than 10 claims were included.

In order to provide a realistic injury cost estimate, researchers also calculated indirect cost estimates. These are costs to the employer which are generally not covered by insurance. Such costs could include, for example, costs of reduced productivity due to disruption of work or work limitations during injury recovery, replacing damaged equipment, and temporary or permanent replacement of injured workers. The total cost of an injury is the sum of the direct and indirect costs. In the application, all costs were adjusted to 2016 dollars. Future versions of Safety Pays in Mining will update costs to the most recent calendar years.


Mine management / mine safety professionals

Kontaktdaten des Herausgebers / der Produktionsfirma

626 Cochrans Mill Road, us-15236 Pittsburgh
+1-412-386-6620 - +1-585-474-6883