As the pronouncements encouraging all of us to get flu shots remind us of the coming cold and flu season, thoughts turn to ways of promoting a safer, healthier work environment. A new study by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health published in the American Journal of Public Health has reported that workers with access to paid sick leave were 28% less likely overall to suffer occupational injuries then workers without access to paid sick leave. Such a reduction would reduce workers’ compensation costs to employers.
The study concluded that access to paid sick leave could reduce “presenteeism,” the problem of sick workers continuing to work who are not fully productive. Paid sick leave reduces the pressure to work while sick out of fear of losing income. Therefore, fewer people will work while sick and this will result in safer operations and fewer injuries.
In an overall workplace, this should make perfect sense. A sick employee is less productive and less aware of his or her surroundings. A sick employee is more likely to make mistakes and in such high risk occupations and industry sectors, such as construction, manufacturing, agriculture, health care and social assistance, such inability to perform increases the risk of injuries to everyone in the workplace.
Arthur Kravitz is a Shareholder in Stark & Stark’s Lawrenceville, New Jersey office, concentrating in Workers’ Compensation Law. For more information, please contact Mr. Kravitz.