Study: Nashville, TN's rate of worker injuries higher than other southern cities
The University of Illinois at Chicago and two labor groups studied construction working conditions in six southern cities — Atlanta, Charlotte, NC, Dallas, Houston, Miami and Nashville, TN, — through interviews with more than 1,400 workers and determined that those in Nashville had the highest rate of injuries, with nearly one in four workers reporting that they experienced a workplace injury during their career, according to The Tennessean.
The study also alleged that many Nashville, TN, construction companies dissuade workers from informing them of injuries and that actual cases could be four times higher than reported, according to Nashville Public Radio.
The study also found that 18% of Nashville's construction workforce comes from agencies that provide temporary labor, a figure that is three times higher than the rest of the Southern construction workforce.
The labor shortage is reportedly driving Nashville contractors to use such a high percentage of temporary labor, and the untrained workers among them could be driving up the injury rate. The study found that almost 25% of Nashville construction workers had been injured at least once in their careers versus 14% of all workers participating in the survey.
The Workers Defense Project conducted another analysis of construction workers in the southern U.S. and found that workers in the region receive little to no employment benefits and have relatively low pay. The report found that across southern states, only 5% of workers said that they had access to workers' compensation coverage.
Safety isn't the only area where construction workers in the South come up short, as 75% of respondents said they earn less than $15 per hour. Forty percent of Houston workers reported they had no health insurance, retirement savings, paid vacations or sick leave, and more than 30% said they were not offered breaks or drinking water during the workday.
According to the nonprofit group Polaris, some of these conditions could qualify as slave-labor exploitation. The organization said that from 2007 to 2016, there were 550 reports of slave labor conditions in the U.S. construction industry. Failing to provide employees with workers' compensation coverage was one indication, as was misclassifying employees as independent contractors to avoid paying benefits. The nonprofit said this mistreatment was more common among small-sized contractors.
- Nashville Public Radio Study Claims Worker Injuries Are Underreported On Nashville Construction Sites
- The Tennessean Nashville construction workers call for safer job sites, more job security
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