Of six booming metropolitan areas in the South, Nashville has the highest rate of injured workers. That’s according to a new study conducted by a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago and two national labor organizations.
The report questions whether conditions have actually improved for workers in the construction industry and documents the working conditions of laborers across six major hubs: Atlanta, Charlotte, Dallas, Houston, Miami and Nashville.
According to Jackie Cornejo, Southern Region Equitable Development Strategist for Partnership for Working families and one of the authors of the study, the data was compiled via surveys and in depth-interviews with 1435 workers currently employed in these cities.
Last year 10 percent of construction workers in Tennessee reported being injured at work, some of them multiple times.
Gary Mitchell spoke at a press conference in Nashville on Tuesday organized by local unions. He recalls a time when he injured his hand while working with a saw.
“I couldn’t use my finger for months. They paid for my hospital bill because we had insurance, but worker’s comp, I didn’t get that,” he says. “I banged it up and still was working. I had to put money on the table for the kids.”
The study claims that workers are discouraged from reporting injuries, and the actual number could be up to four times higher than the rate reported to federal agencies.
The overall spike in Nashville may be due in part to a labor shortage.
According to the Associated General Contractors, 90 percent of contractors struggled to find enough qualified workers to fill job openings in job sites across Tennessee. The report argues that this demand for laborers leads construction companies to temporary staffing agencies where workers are often not given adequate safety training.