Domestic work conditions can lead to serious injuries

A national study has recently shown that being a domestic worker certainly comes with risks, and very little pay. Domestic workers, who include caregivers, nannies and housekeepers, do not work standard hours. They work based on the needs of their clients, which can often affect their sleeping patterns.

In fact, according to a study by the National Domestic Workers Alliance, 25 percent of housekeepers and live-in nannies get less than five hours a sleep a night. It is clear that this lack of sleep can lead to serious health issues later in life and make these workers prone to accidents as a result of their fatigue.

One nanny, in describing her experiences, admitted that most people who employ domestic workers do not see themselves as legitimate employers. This is shown by the fact that only 9 percent of the families who employ domestic workers pay into Social Security, something that nearly every other employer must do under federal law.

The study also showed the industry to be rife with accidents and injuries. Of those surveyed, 29 percent of workers said their skin has been irritated by chemicals. Also, 38 percent said they suffered from work-related pains. None of these capture the short- and long-term accidents that may come from a lack of sleep, few to no days off, and little down time. Without the proper balance between work and rest, it is likely that many of these domestic workers are injuring themselves out of sheer fatigue.

No one, no matter what the work situation, should be exempt from workers’ compensation for a work-related injury. If these men and women are being injured on the job, even if “on the job” means in someone’s home, they deserve to be compensated for their medical bills and the money they cannot earn during recovery.

Source: New York Daily News, “Nannies are underpaid and overworked: survey,” Erica Pearson, Nov. 27, 2012

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