Every employer is required by law to provide workers’ compensation insurance for his or her worker. But did you know that cab drivers in Pennsylvania don’t enjoy that protection?

Rather than employees, cab drivers in Pennsylvania are considered contractors. And because of that designation, the cab companies that own the business licenses don’t pay the drivers or provide workers’ compensation benefits if they’re injured on the job.

Some might be tempted to brush that fact off as just one of the realities of the taxi cab business. But, as has been known for a long time, and which was pointed out again as recently as last week, being a cab driver in Philadelphia is not a safe occupation.

Dozens of drivers and representatives of the cab companies and the city met at the Pennsylvania Convention Center last week to talk about driver safety. The common understanding declared by all is that it’s dangerous on the streets for drivers.

Every driver had his own story of assault or one about a colleague who became a victim. And even the spokesman for one taxi association representing Philadelphia, Chicago and New York, said that the level of violence is worst of all for drivers in Philly.

The purpose of the meeting was to ostensibly seek ideas for how to make things safer. Among the most mentioned recommendations from the drivers was one that calls for installing security video cameras in cabs. Other ideas that seemed to garner some support were for panic buttons that would alert police in the case of attacks, either by signal or direct messages to police dispatchers.

But the idea that triggered a burst of applause from the audience was one city official’s call for the cab companies to come up with a workers’ compensation program for drivers.

Source: Philly.com, “Philly taxi drivers want cameras, other safety measures,” Christine Fisher, Sept. 19, 2013