News of the Month – January 2020

January 29th, 2020

Thanks to climate change, workers are facing hotter temperatures on a more frequent basis, yet there are no federal safety protections for workers in extreme temperatures. Only three states — California, Washington and Minnesota — have heat stress workplace protection standards. The number of dangerous heat days for 133 US cities, are projected to increase from 20 a year on average in 2000 to 58 in 2050. 

Many of the nation’s most critical workers are chronically sleep-deprived, reports the Journal of Community Health. Researchers analyzed data from more than 150,000 employed adults between 2010 and 2018 and found a 5 percent increase in adequate sleep. Professions with the highest levels of poor sleep included healthcare support occupations (45 percent), transport and material moving (41 percent), and production occupations (41 percent). Researchers blame longer working hours and use of technology and electronic devices for keeping people up at night.”

The U.S. consistently outpaces other industrialized nations in workplace fatalities. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 5,147 workplace fatalities in the U.S. in 2017, 887 due to fatal falls — the highest level reported in the 26-year history of the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries. The majority of fatal workplace falls regularly occur in construction and disproportionately impact Hispanic workers. 

The suicide rate has surged 40 percent in the U.S. over less than two decades, with blue-collar workers at a significantly higher risk, according to new research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But a new study in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health suggests a relatively simple way to reduce the number of people who take their own lives: Raise the minimum wage. Researchers estimated that, for the period from 2009-2015, a $1 increase in the minimum wage could have prevented 13,800 suicides among those aged 18 to 64 with a high school education or less; a $2 increase could have prevented 25,900 such deaths.