"Workers with access to paid sick leave were 28 percent less likely overall to suffer nonfatal occupational injuries than workers without access to paid sick leave," reported the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. "Workers in high-risk occupations and industry sectors, such as construction, manufacturing, agriculture, and health care and social assistance, appeared to benefit most from paid sick leave."
The study, Paid Sick Leave and Nonfatal Occupational Injuries, is published in the American Journal of Public Health. The authors surmised that safer operations and fewer injuries may result from fewer people working while sick. It also prevents the spread of contagious diseases.
The study examined information from the National Health Interview Survey of more than 38,000 working adults from 2005 to 2008. Those in the sample were asked whether they had access to paid sick leave through their main job or business and whether they had suffered any injury or poisoning that required medical consultation during the three months prior to the survey.
"Employers may benefit from improved productivity if paid sick leave helps reduce absenteeism, or unscheduled leave, and 'presenteeism,' or the problem of sick workers continuing to work while not fully productive," the study says. "Sick or stressed workers who continue to work are likely to take medications, experience sleep problems or be fatigued. These factors can impair their ability to concentrate or make sound decisions, which can in turn increase their probability of suffering an additional illness or sustaining a workplace injury."
Previous research has indicated paid sick leave is associated with shorter recovery times and reduced complications from minor health problems. Nevertheless, 43 percent of private sector workers in the U.S. reported having no access to paid sick leave, according to the study. While the Family and Medical Leave Act requires companies to provide up to 12 weeks of leave to eligible workers, that leave can be paid or unpaid. Only California and New Jersey have systems that provide workers with partial wage replacement, according to the study.
"We hope that our study along with previous research that supports our findings and conclusions will encourage policy makers and employers to consider the overall wellbeing of workers when making policy or funding decisions," the report states. "Such a holistic approach would lead to more integrated development of programs that both prevent occupational injury and illness and improve other aspects of worker health."
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
September 20, 2012
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