Add one more piece of evidence to the increasingly-difficult-to-ignore body of facts that suggests earned sick days – particularly for lower-wage workers – are crucial to our country’s economic success and families’ economic security. A new study by health economist J. Paul Leigh shows that the economic cost of workplace injuries among low-wage workers amounted to more than $39 billion in 2010. The high cost of workplace injuries among low-wage workers is particularly striking in light of recent research demonstrating that there is a significant correlation between lack of paid sick leave and the incidence of nonfatal occupational injuries. A study by Abay Asfaw and colleagues, released earlier this year, showed that workers with paid sick leave were 28 percent less likely than those without leave to be injured. Given that 80 percent of workers making very low wages have no access to paid sick leave, the need to heed these findings on workplace injuries and sick leave is urgent.
Numbers and Costs of Occupational Injury and Illness in Low-Wage Occupations
Source: J. Paul Leigh, Center for Poverty Research, and Center for Health Care Policy and Research, University of California Davis, December 2012
Paid Sick Leave and Nonfatal Occupational Injuries
Source: Abay Asfaw, Regina Pana-Cryan, and Roger Rosa, American Journal of Public Health, Vol. 102 No. 9, September 2012