The financial crisis of 2008 and subsequent recession led to a large increase
in the number of temporary employees. Businesses in recent years have
increasingly made use of temp workers, especially in warehouses, factories
and construction sites. Around 2.8 million people are currently employed
by the temp industry, which is a record high. The trend may be coming
at a price, however. A ProPublica report recently stated that temp workers
have a much higher risk of suffering a work-related injury or death in
For California, the report indicated that temps were 50 percent more likely
to be injured while working than permanent employees. Florida shared the
same figure, while Massachusetts temps had a 36 percent higher risk and
Oregon temps had a 66 percent higher risk. The injury risk for Minnesota
residents was a whopping 72 percent higher than for non-temps.
The blue-collar temping industry is lightly regulated and often involves
jobs that are dangerous. Many temps in these jobs have little to no training.
Businesses making use of temp workers are also not necessarily responsible
for paying any medical bills resulting from injuries sustained on the
job. Temp agencies and businesses often end up fighting over liability,
which can delay emergency medical care for injured workers.
California temps were found to be twice as likely to suffer from heat exhaustion
as other workers. Occupational Safety and Health Administration interviews
and files cited by the report indicated that certain types of
industrial accidents happened again and again. Getting caught in machinery such as tire shredders
or food grinders, becoming asphyxiated while cleaning chemical tanks and
heat stroke were just some of the more common injuries. One economist
commenting on the report stated that the tragic temp workers' deaths
revealed by OSHA indicate a grave lack of oversight and supervision.
As the temp industry continues to grow, it could be argued that more regulations
and clear liability laws will be needed. Until these regulations are put
into place, however, the family of an injured or killed temp worker may
need to seek legal assistance to compensate for medical expenses, lost
wages, funeral expenses and other damages.
Source: psmag.com, "Temporary Work, Lasting Harm" Michael Grabell, Olga Pierce & Jeff Larson, Feb. 03, 2014