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The link between economics and workplace injuries

New Jersey workers might be safer when their employers are under less earning pressure according to a study that appeared in the Journal of Accounting and Economics. The study examined the relationship between pressure on managers to reach earnings expectations and safety in the workplace using injury data from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for the years 2002 to 2011. This injury data was then compared to earnings data.

The study found that a firm that is just reaching or going beyond analyst forecasts has an injury rate that is 5 to 15 percent higher than companies that either beat their forecasts by a comfortable margin or miss them. There are several ways in which this economic pressure can lead to a more unsafe workplace. One is that employee workloads may be increased, with pressure to work faster or longer, when a company is in danger of falling short of its goal. In a reaction to this pressure, workers may take shortcuts with safety protocols or might be so tired that they behave unsafely. Furthermore, managers might also skip safety-related tasks to save time or money.

The study also found that states with higher workers' compensation premiums had better safety records than those with lower ones. Companies took more care for their workers' safety when costs were higher.

Workers' compensation is available to most employees who are injured on the job. It may help cover the costs of medical expenses and provide a percentage of lost wages although some employers might try to discourage their employees from applying for benefits. Injured workers may want to consult an attorney about their rights and the process for applying for compensation as well as what to do if an appeal is necessary.

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