June 24, 2010

Christine Baker


The Commission on Health and Safety and Workers’ Compensation
Approves for Final Posting the Report on Musculoskeletal Injuries to Firefighters

OAKLAND  --  The Commission on Health and Safety and Workers' Compensation (CHSWC) has approved for final posting, “The Frequency, Severity, and Economic Consequences of Musculoskeletal Injuries to Firefighters in California.”

Prepared by RAND, the study finds that firefighters are subject to considerably more risk of nonfatal injuries than workers in the private sector. In particular, firefighters 55 and older are more than ten times more likely to suffer a musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) than are private-sector workers of the same age, and, when injured, these older firefighters take more than four times longer to return to work.

While the frequency and severity of MSDs were found to be greater for firefighters, the analysis suggests that this does not necessarily translate into worse long-term economic consequences for work­ers. Declines in permanent disability ratings expe­rienced by firefighters are comparable to those experienced by other workers, as a result of past reforms.

The full report with figures, tables and data sources can be found in the report sections of the CHSWC website at

CHSWC is charged with examining the health and safety and workers’ compensation systems in California and recommending administrative or legislative modifications to improve their operation.  The Commission was established to conduct a continuing examination of the workers’ compensation system and of the state’s activities to prevent industrial injuries and occupational illnesses and to examine those programs in other states.

Information about the report is available at and by writing to the Commission on Health and Safety and Workers' Compensation, 1515 Clay Street, Room 901, Oakland, CA 94612, by calling (510) 622-3959, by faxing a request to (510) 622-3265, or by emailing