Mississippi human rights groups say it's time to revamp the state's worker compensation laws. As MPB's Desare Frazier reports, they say injured workers lack the support they need.
The Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance reports, in 2015, 77 Mississippians died on the Job. Executive Director Bill Chandler says they have no way of knowing how many are injured because the state doesn't have a labor board.
"We have no mechanism to report to the United States Department of Labor those that are injured on the job. So, we have no idea how many people are injured except that we hear about it or people come to us with injuries," said Chandler.
Republican Senate Pro Tempore, Terry Burton of Newton, says bills have been submitted over the years to create a board.
"I've seen two or three, maybe four attempts to create a department of labor with legislation. It's never passed the Senate or the House as far as I know," said Burton.
But Burton says employers must follow federal labor and OSHA guidelines. Chandler and other human rights groups say more safety protections are needed. They're at the state capitol to remember workers who've died on the job as part of Worker's Memorial Day. The April 28th, AFL-CIO holiday urges groups to fight for safer working conditions. Attorney Jaribu Hill with Mississippi Workers Center for Human Rights says seriously injured workers can receive two-thirds of their incomes for up to 8 1/2 years.
"So if you've been blinded by a chemical spill and you will never see again or if you've fallen off a scaffold and will never walk again then we want those workers to have unlimited coverage right away," said Hill.
Among the changes Hill's advocating: paying medical benefits regardless of the number of work days missed, and setting-up a fund to cover those who have employers who don't pay into the system.