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Unsafe at Work

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Jobsite Safety

Unsafe at Work

According to the Federal Reserve, the "gig economy" is the number one issue affecting worker safety in the U.S. This is especially true for contract workers in transportation and construction

April 10, 2019
Construction worker at work on home interior installing drywall
Photo: Unsplash

According to the Federal Reserve, the "gig economy" is the No. 1 issue affecting worker safety in the U.S. This is especially true for contract workers in transportation and construction.

Gig workers in the industry, typically the young and inexperienced, or older workers with slower reaction time and greater health issues, are more likely to have accidents than other workers, per the Bureau of Labor Statistics. CBS News reports that the shortage of healthy workers is a major issue, as workplace overdoses from drugs and alcohol rose 25 percent for five straight years ending in 2017.

Overall government statistics don't reflect how hazardous this corner of the workplace has become. Workers compensation insurers, which have to pay when someone gets injured or killed on the job, report that 2015 to 2018 were four banner years when revenue exceeded business costs and losses by more than 5 percent. Fatal injuries in manufacturing and wholesale trade were the lowest since 2003, according to a 2017 report from the BLS.

But that may not be a reason to celebrate. Vice President Jerry Theodorou of global investment firm Conning, which serves the insurance industry, warned in a report that this may be "as good as it gets." Nearly half of the 2017 deaths happened in just two sectors: transportation and construction.

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