Your employer’s financial trouble could increase your risk of suffering physical harm. That is the finding of a groundbreaking new study that was conducted by Dr. Malcolm Wardlaw of the University of Texas at Dallas.
Dr. Wardlaw has found that there is a statistically significant correlation between an employer’s financial health and the actual health of the firm’s employees. Using years of comprehensive workplace injury data that was provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Dr. Wardlaw found that financially distressed employers see more workplace accidents and injuries.
The results of this study are both alarming and unacceptable. We cannot let worker safety become the victim of a business’ financial problems. Worker safety must always come before cost-cutting.
Why Is Employer Financial Stability Linked to Injury Risk?
The study found that financially distressed employers are often primarily focused on servicing their immediate debt obligations. This means that they focus on paying that quarter’s debts and let the focus fall off of long-term obligations. In other words, the limited funds the employer has available go to the debt first, and little to nothing is left for vital safety-related spending.
More specifically, debt-ridden employers are likely to spend less money on:
- Maintaining and repairing equipment
- Upgrading to equipment with better safety features
- Automation of especially dangerous tasks
- Investments in better safety training or more supervision
Case Study: The Real Harm of Cutting Back on Safety
In the study, researchers used advanced statistical tools to determine the effect of employer finances on workplace safety. This statistical evidence is extremely important as it makes a compelling case for policymakers to look for reforms in this area.
The study also included some very important real-world examples. Statistics matter, but we should also keep in mind the real victims of aggressive cost-cutting. There are many examples of lives being destroyed by employers letting safety lapse.
The study cited one of the most famous examples: the 2005 BP refinery explosion that occurred at a Texas City processing plant. Tragically, 15 workers were killed in that accident. After an extensive multi-year investigation, the United States Chemical Safety Board determined that the primary cause of the explosion was a worn-out valve ring, a relatively small and simple piece of equipment. Notably, the federal investigators found that this valve ring was not replaced earlier because the firm was facing financial distress. Likely related to that distress, the employer chose to delay the replacement of that valve ring as a cost-saving measure.
Were You Hurt on the Job?
We may be able to help. At Grimes Teich Anderson, LLP, our workers’ compensation lawyers have helped many workplace accident victims recover the full and fair benefits that they are entitled to. If you have been injured on the job, please do not hesitate to contact us today to set up a free review of your case. We serve injured workers throughout Upstate South Carolina and Western North Carolina, including Franklin, Greenville, Asheville, Spartanburg and Waynesville.