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Physical Pain May Not Be the Biggest Worry for Workplace Injuries

If the hassle and physical pain of suffering a work-related injury wasn’t enough to deal with on its own, Fox News Health now reports that workplace injuries may increase the likelihood of losing employment completely. Even though worker protections were designed specifically to prevent this from happening, a study of nursing home employees in the […]

Physical Pain May Not Be the Biggest Worry for Workplace Injuries

If the hassle and physical pain of suffering a work-related injury wasn’t enough to deal with on its own, Fox News Health now reports that workplace injuries may increase the likelihood of losing employment completely.

Even though worker protections were designed specifically to prevent this from happening, a study of nursing home employees in the United States found that workers are twice as likely than normal to be fired within the six months following a workplace injury.

“The results demonstrate higher risk of being fired but we don’t have data to say why exactly workers are being fired. We can only say that their risks are higher,” explained lead author Cassandra Okechukwu of the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston.

Workers injured multiple times were also found to be twice as likely to quit in the same time span.

The study in Occupational and Environmental Medicine notes that workers are typically most likely to be injured during the first few months of new employment. In turn, the resulting high job turnover increases chances more new workers will be injured.

These findings indicate that federal and state-level regulations meant to protect workers from being terminated due to injuries are not being enforced. This means that employees are not being offered workers compensation, as well as not being given sufficient recovery time.

The study conducted by the Work, Family, and Health Network examined 1,331 direct care workers from 30 different nursing homes throughout New England in an attempt to evaluate the effectiveness of these workplace policies.

The workers were interviewed once off the bat, six months afterwards, again one year later, and finally after 18 months. During the interviews, participants were asked whether they had been injured within the past six months and how many times.

The researchers then used administrative data from the facilities to discover which of these employees were fired or left on their own accord.

After a single year, 30% of the participants had been injured while working, one-quarter of which were no longer employed at the 18-month mark.

“While these situations should not be happening within the current workers’ compensation legislation, we do know that they sometimes do occur, in spite of the legislation in place,” said Peter Smith, a researcher at the Institute for Work and Health at the University of Toronto.

With 5.5 workplace injuries recorded for every 100 full-time warehouse workers just in 2011, a substantial amount may no longer be employed.

To make matters worse, even those who remain employed after a workplace injury may be forced to deal with cuts in wages, according to JDSupra Business Advisor.

A recent study published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine followed 1,200 participants over the course of 30 years, ranging anywhere from 14 to 22 years of age. By the final year, 82% of participants kept up with the yearly interviews.

The participants were split into three categories: those who suffered work injuries leading to days away from work (DAFW), injuries with no days away from work (NDAFW), and those without any injuries. Researchers then gathered data regarding employment history, income, health status and level of education.

The workers also reported whether or not they filed for and received workers’ compensation, if wages were lost, if work hours were cut, and whether they were forced to change employment, were laid off, or were fired.

The findings showed that workers who suffered DAFW injuries had a high chance of receiving a substantial amount of income loss in the years after an injury.

Those with NDAFW injuries showed the same trend, while workers with no injuries showed bigger increases in income.

Even though these results show a strong correlation between workplace injuries and cuts in pay, the researchers believe that further study is necessary to make a definitive link.

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