August 16, 2011 Liz Borkowski, MPH 0Comment

I somehow missed this when it first happened, but the state of Connecticut made history last month when Governor Dan Malloy signed legislation requiring up to five paid sick days per year for service workers at businesses with 50 or more employees. Christopher Keating gave these details in the Hartford Courant after the state’s House of Representative passed the measure:

Manufacturing firms and nationally chartered nonprofit organizations like the YMCA would be exempt, and the bill also would not cover day laborers, independent contractors, salaried workers, and temporary workers.

Unlike in its previous incarnations, the bill now applies only to service workers who receive an hourly wage — a broad category that would cover an estimated 200,000 to 400,000 waiters, waitresses, cashiers, crossing guards, fast-food cooks, hairstylists, security guards, nursing home aides, car mechanics and others. Republicans complained that the list of jobs covered is vague, but Democrats said any disputes over which workers might be covered would be settled by the state labor department.

San Francisco and Washington, DC both have laws requiring paid sick leave, and Milwaukee voters passed such a law but saw it preempted earlier this year by a state law prohibiting any jurisdiction from mandating paid sick days. Although Connecticut’s new law doesn’t apply to all workers, it can still claim the distinction of being the first US state to pass such a law. By one estimate, 42% of this country’s private-sector workforce lacks access to paid sick leave, and service-sector employees are among those least likely to have access to paid sick time.

In other news:

iWatch News: President Obama’s proposed budget eliminates funding for two programs that address injury and illness prevention in the high-risk industries of agriculture, logging, and commercial fishing.

Washington Post: NFL players have had a lot of injuries as camps have opened following the lockout – but are there really more injuries than in other years, or are they just getting more attention?

New York Times: A new study of the antipsychotic Risperdal finds that it’s no more effective than a placebo for treating severe PTSD in veterans. The results may extend to other antipsychotic drugs, all of which are frequently prescribed for those suffering from post-combat PTSD.

Mine Safety and Health Administration: During the first half of 2011, 14 miners were killed on the job.

NIOSH Science Blog: Knowing what’s a myth about heat illness and what’s not can help employers create safe working conditions when temperatures are high.

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