If we're to believe researchers, the economic downturn may just have some unforeseen benefits. A study in Florida purports to have found a potential link between a significant drop workers' compensation claims made by Tampa Bay construction workers and the loss of construction jobs. The study, which is to be released at the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surfeons' annual meeting, finds that traumatic orthopedic injuries dropped by 16 percent, and, HealthDay reporter Randy Dotinga writes, this may confirm a trend that surgeons have reported over the years.
Workers' compensation attorneys know that orthopaedic trauma resulting from falls on construction sites are is among workers. Such incidents can cause fractured ankles, shinbones and heel bones, according to study author Dr. Daniel S. Chan, staff orthopedic surgeon at Florida Orthopedic Institute in Tampa. Chan and his co-authors found that cases of orthopedic trauma indeed underwent a decline: from 2,065 in 2007 to 1,743 in 2009, a drop of 16 percent. The unemployment rate in the county rose correspondingly, from 4 percent to 10.7 percent. During that time, construction worker employment also fell - by a whopping 36 percent between 2006 and 2009.
The researchers still couldn't confirm a direct correlation between job loss and a decrease in injury, writes Dotinga, but they closely examined the number of trauma cases treated at the Florida Orthopedic Institute from 2001-2009 and then looked for corresponding factors reflecting the rise and fall of the economy during that same time span.