The Occupational Safety & Health Administration recently released a report entitled, “Adding Inequality to Injury: The Costs of Failing to Protect Workers on the Job.” Detailed in the report are examples of how workplace injuries serve to create financial burdens which negatively impact the overall economic and social standing of those workers and families impacted.
Also discussed is how changes in many states’ workers’ compensation programs are failing injured workers who end up shouldering many of the injury-related costs that were previously covered by employers.
Many people still think of America as the land of opportunity where, through hard work, an individual can achieve financial success. However, increasingly workers in many U.S. segments no longer share this idyllic viewpoint. Gone largely are the days of employer and employee loyalty when an individual obtained a job with a company through which they are able to advance and successfully grow. Today, in many industries including manufacturing and construction, there’s been an increasing reliance on contract and independent laborers.
Take for example a construction worksite where dozens of workers are responsible for carrying out assigned duties, the vast majority of which are contractors. In some cases, workers from several different companies may be assigned to the same worksite. This type of situation presents many unknowns and safety concerns as those individuals tasked with managing a worksite may have no idea about each worker’s level of experience and training.
Additionally, employers within the construction industry are often guilty of misclassifying independent contractors which employers frequently use to their advantage to avoid compliance with OSHA regulations. What’s more, in cases where an independent contractor is injured on the job, he or she isn’t able to recover workers’ compensation benefits.
In our next post, we’ll continue to look at the recent OSHA report and how work injuries are ultimately contributing to the widening socioeconomic gap in the U.S.
Source: OSHA, “ADDING INEQUALITY TO INJURY: THE COSTS OF FAILING TO PROTECT WORKERS ON THE JOB,” March 4, 2015