For Immediate Release
Report: Mississippi Workers Are Dying on the Job at One of the Highest Rates in the Nation
GREENVILLE, Miss - Workers in Mississippi suffer high numbers of severe work-related injuries, and they face one of the highest workplace fatality rates in the nation, yet the government systems that are supposed to protect these injured workers are among the nation’s worst, according to a report released today by the National Employment Law Project and the Mississippi Workers’ Center for Human Rights.
In fact, Mississippi has one of the highest on-the-job fatality rates of any state in the union. Yet workers face a state workers’ compensation system where benefits are the lowest in the nation, putting Mississippi workers who suffer a work-related injury at risk of falling into poverty.
“The findings in the report present disturbing facts about Mississippi’s lack of adequate safety and health protections for its workers and the alarming rates of workplace injuries and fatalities occurring every year,” said Jaribu Hill, executive director of the Mississippi Workers’ Center for Human Rights. “More must be done to ensure that workers do not continue to be victims of preventable hazards on the job.
“All workers have a right to a safe workplace, yet the protections afforded workers in Mississippi are out of step with every other state in the nation,” said Deborah Berkowitz, senior fellow for worker safety and health with National Employment Law Project. “The result is that workers, their families, and their communities are shouldering the costs of work-related injuries—not the employer.”
The report’s findings include the following:
- Despite a law requiring safe workplaces being on the books for more than 40 years, workers in Mississippi are getting killed on the job at the fourth highest rate of any state in the nation.
- More than 200 workers a year in Mississippi suffer a work injury so severe that it results in an amputation or hospitalization. That’s close to four workers every week.
- The most dangerous industries include food processing, wood products, construction, auto manufacturing and ship building.
- From January through October 1, 2017, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which is charged with assuring that workplaces prevent injuries by complying with safety standards, reduced the number of inspections of Mississippi workplaces by one-third when compared to the same period a year ago.
- Mississippi workers’ compensation, the state-run system designed to take care of injured workers and provide medical care and wage replacement for seriously injured workers, has the lowest benefits in the nation for the most severely injured workers.
- Mississippi provides the least number of weeks of benefits of any state in the nation when a worker suffers a total permanent disability (only 450 weeks).
- Mississippi provides the lowest dollar amount of benefits to workers who face a temporary total disability.
The report’s recommendations include the following:
- Mississippi should raise the cap on the number of weeks of benefits for temporary and permanently disabled workers.
- Mississippi should provide common-sense anti-retaliation language that prohibits workers from being discharged or retaliated against for filing a workers compensation claim.
- Mississippi should participate in the collection of work-related injury and illness date by the Bureau of Labor Statistic (it’s one of nine states that do not participate).
- Federal OSHA should increase the number of inspectors to assure the office is fully staffed with a minimum of 11 inspectors (2016/2017 appropriated levels).
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