“Compared to colleagues reporting no injuries, workers who were hurt were more than twice as likely to be fired in the next six months. … After one year, 30 percent of workers had been injured at work and about a quarter were no longer employed at that job after 18 months.”
Can you guess specifics about the quote above, or at least start with figuring out which industry the quote is talking about?
The answer may surprise you (or maybe not, if you or a loved one have worked in this industry): it’s results that “used data from a study done by the Work, Family and Health Network involving direct care workers from 30 nursing homes across New England,” according to the study’s lead author. Cassandra Okechukwu, the lead author, offered that the study’s “original goal was to examine workplace policies meant to improve workers’ health, safety, and wellbeing.”
I am glad that Okechukwu and her team followed the data where it led, even though that wasn’t the original intent of the study. I am also glad that Madeline Kennedy wrote about the study’s results at this link via Reuters Health.
“The results also indicate that federal and state-level regulations, which are supposed to protect workers from being fired after injuries and to give workers compensation and sufficient time to recover from an injury, may not always be followed,” Kennedy wrote.
The study included 1,331 nursing home workers who completed interviews at six-month intervals and reported injuries and job changes for the previous six months in each interview, according to Kennedy. “Nine in 10 of the participants were women, and more than two thirds were certified nursing assistants.”
“Workers who had been injured multiple times were also twice as likely to quit their jobs in the next six months as colleagues with no injuries, the study found. … Compared with people who were not injured, injured workers were 30 percent more likely to no longer be in their jobs within six months of the injury, whether voluntarily or involuntarily.
“People who were injured more than once were more likely to choose to leave their jobs than people with no injuries, while people injured only once were more likely to be fired.”
Why workers are being fired is a question that needs to be examined in another study, according to Okechukwu. I would add that additional research always needs to be done, and I hope someone addresses this issue, as I think it is very important to know about for injured workers and those of us who work with and care for them.
Another researcher Kennedy quoted in the Reuters article who wasn’t involved in the study was Peter Smith, from the Institute for Work and Health at the University of Toronto.
Smith suggested that “workers may be fired because their employers feel they can no longer perform the job duties, or due to worries that they will be injured again,” or that workers elect to leave their jobs because they’re scared of being hurt.
“‘Work is not supposed to lead to injury,’ Smith said, and employers should give workers resources to protect their health and earnings. ‘Measures must be put in place to ensure that employers do not fire or discipline workers because they have had a work-related injury,’ he said.”
If you or a loved one have questions about a work-related injury or suspect you’ve been fired because of an injury at work, please speak with an experienced lawyer.