Rate of work-related accidents much higher for temp workers

Rate of work-related accidents much higher for temp workers

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 some states.

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

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