NU Online News Service, June 6, 10:05 a.m. – Health problems that affect workers while they are at work cost U.S. employers more than $180 billion a year in lost productivity, according to AdvancePCS, Irving, Tex., a pharmacy benefits management company.

AdvancePCS says the figure represents the estimated value of the time employees lose when they are still at work but unable to perform due to health conditions. On-the-job illnesses account for more than two-thirds of health-related lost labor costs, even though the effect is often invisible to employers, AdvancePCS says.

AdvancePCS based its estimate of the hidden lost productivity on data collected over 10 months from 25,000 interviews.

The survey found that most workers experience conditions such as headaches, fatigue and the common cold at least once in any two-week period. More than 70% of the men and 80% of the women reported experiencing at least one such health condition in the two-week period before the interview.

In addition, 38% of the women and 28% of the men reported being at work one or more days during the previous two weeks and not feeling well. Only 7.2% of the women and 5.3% of the men actually missed a day of work in the previous two weeks for a health reason.

The average U.S worker loses 115 productive work hours every year due to a health condition, AdvancePCS says.

For any given condition, 35% of the employees account for more than 70% of the productivity lost, AdvancePCS concludes.