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Inequality and Workplace Injuries: 5 Highlights from OSHA’s Recent Report

F Marie Athey OHST

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F Marie Athey OHST | April 20, 2015 | Comments Off on Inequality and Workplace Injuries: 5 Highlights from OSHA’s Recent Report

Workplace Injuries and InequalityAs it turns out, the workers’ compensation system in the United States is far more complicated than it seems. OSHA recently released “Adding Inequality to Injury: The Costs of Failing to Protect Workers on the Job” and the report shed new light on the American workplace. Discover who is being left behind in terms of workers’ compensation in our latest post about the highlights from OSHA’s report:

Injured Workers Earn Less in the Long Run

For individuals who are injured in the workplace, the cost is greater than just missing a few days, weeks or months at work. OSHA has determined that injured workers earn 15 percent less in the decade following an injury, as compared to those working in the same position without an injury. This fiscal amount equates to $31,000. Where is the difference coming from? When a worker is placed on workers’ compensation following an injury, the benefits are far from the pay they would have earned on the job. This substantial difference is raising alarms for OSHA, especially since the organization aims to provide equal and fair compensation to employees who are injured on the jobsite.

Lower-Wage Jobs are Highly Hazardous

In many instances, individuals who work in high-hazard jobs—like construction sites, coal mines, and commercial trucks—are being paid low wages. Additionally, low-paying jobs are often not enough to get individuals with families above the poverty line. As a result, when an accident or injury on the job does take place, the family is put in a predicament of lost wages for now and in the years to come.

Workers are at Risk of Fatigue and Sleep Loss

To make up for the shortcomings in paydays, workers are being forced to work multiple jobs. This is creating additional job hazards in the form of fatigue and sleep deprivation. In addition to the high-hazard jobs held by low-wage earners, the hazards of operating heavy-duty equipment and machinery when fatigued are exponential. In the end, these workers are overworked and have an increased risk of being injured on the job. This is a vicious cycle for our hardest working Americans.

Paying for Workers’ Injuries

OSHA points out that, ideally, the workers’ compensation system is set up to cover the costs incurred by workers who are injured on the job. Well, it turns out that workers have to pay approximately 60 percent of these costs out of their pockets, while workers’ comp is covering a scant 21 percent. For individuals who are taken out of the workforce entirely, this measly amount is an embarrassment.

Eligibility of Workers’ Comp Limited

Who is getting workers’ compensation? According to OSHA, less than 40 percent of workers actually get workers’ comp even when they are justly in the position to earn the benefits. Issues are stagnant for poor workers in particular, thanks to the lack of knowledge of workers’ rights, the lack of transparency with filing for workers’ comp, and a general command of the English language.

OSHA points out that workers’ compensation is far from being the fix-all solution for managing on-the-job injuries. The best way to avoid this entire disaster is to take workplace safety very seriously. Check out for the latest updates on preventing workplace accidents and illnesses.

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