Focusing on employee health and safety helps to improve employee retention and cut costs. However, only 54% of employees feel that their employer takes their safety at work very seriously. Some states that are doing amazingly well at protecting their workers’ health and safety. So, which states are they and what are they doing?
A recent study from Oxfam America ranked Oregon in the top place for worker protection policies. It was followed by California and New York. The study took into consideration things such as equal pay mandates, heat safety, paid sick leave mandates, and considerations for pregnant women. But when Oxfam reviewed all states as a whole for working conditions, New York fell out of the top 3 and was replaced by Washington. Washington’s recent minimum wage increase to $15.74 ultimately helped it beat New York which is just $15.00 per hour.
Looking after injured workers
Accidents and injuries happen in the workplace, even with the strictest safety measures in place. The workplace injury and illness rate currently sits at 2.6 million per year. These workers are usually entitled to workers’ compensation. Some states make injured employees wait 7 days before they qualify. But states, including Alaska, Utah, and California only have a 3-day wait. Temporary disability benefits and permanent disability benefits differ between states too. They also vary depending on when your injury occurred. For example, the temporary disability rate in California for injuries from 1/1/23 is a minimum of $242.86 for weekly earnings below $364.29. If you got your injury from 1/1/2021, the minimum rate is $203.44 on weekly earnings below $305.16. Alabama’s rate, on the other hand, differs and is a minimum of $253 for injuries between July 2020 and July 2021.
Not every injury or illness happens in the workplace. Many workers fall ill away from their job. Not working can affect their physical and mental health. This is where state disability insurance comes in. Employees can use this to cover their loss of wages for a short period. This is beneficial as it means they’re less likely to force themselves back to work when they’re unwell and put their safety at risk. Despite how much this insurance can safeguard workers, only 5 states offer it; California, Hawaii, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island.
Employee safety takes many different forms. There are some states which go above and beyond when looking out for their workers, while others have a lot of work to do to catch up.