Sub-standard job performance caused by pain costs US employers more than
US$60bn (£35bn) a year in lost productivity, according to a study published in
the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Headaches were the most frequently cited medical condition causing problems
at work, followed by back pain, foot pain, arthritis and other joint and muscle
aches. Menstrual pain and toothaches were excluded from the research.
The authors suggested that employers could cut costs by being more in tune
with their workers’ needs, launching office campaigns to promote treatment
options, displaying charts explaining how to lift heavy objects, and using
simple pain prevention techniques (such as positioning computer monitors
Researchers telephoned 28,902 workers in blue and white-collar jobs to ask
them about any absent days or lost on-the-job productivity during the previous
two weeks, and about specific types of pain that might have contributed. Nearly
53 per cent reported having pain during the previous two weeks, and 13 per cent
said they had a pain-related loss in productivity. The average amount of lost
time was 4.6 hours per week.