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Is workplace safety part of the income equality debate?

As many Louisiana residents are aware -- and, indeed, people all across the country are aware -- income equality has become a major debate in our time, if not the major debate of our time. Many people point to flagging income for workers and low minimum wage rates, the latter of which is changing, albeit slowly. However, there could be another area of the workplace that contributes to income inequality, and it's probably not what you would think: workplace safety.

In the opinion of the chief of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), workplace injuries, illnesses and accidents play a huge role in income equality. He believes that workers who are injured or affected by workplace have a harder time making it into the middle class or staying in the middle class.

There's also the issue of the connection between low-paying jobs and dangerous jobs. Such low-paying jobs tend to have more dangerous conditions, and thus they pose a greater risk to workers. It's like a downward spiral, where workers already aren't making enough money and then they are exposed to unsafe work conditions. How are they supposed to financially deal with any injuries or illnesses they may suffer as a result of their workplace?

Though the OSHA chief's opinion may not necessarily be fact, what is undeniable is that people who suffer injuries at work due to a workplace accident usually aren't the same after the incident. They may deal with permanent disabilities or debilitating injuries that make it impossible for them to obtain a job, let alone work in a reduced capacity.

Source: NBC News, "OSHA Chief: Inequality in America Is About Workplace Hazards, Too," Seth Freed Wessler, July 14, 2014

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