Since emerging from the recession in 2009, companies are relying on temporary workers more heavily than ever before. According to the Department of Labor, the U.S. had added 913,000 temporary employees in the four years since the recession’s end, amounting to about 19% of all new jobs. As of December 2013, preliminary figures indicate there are a record-setting 2.8 million temporary employees at work in the U.S.
Experts say the reason for the increase is evident: still feeling shaken by the downturn, companies are reluctant to hire full-time employees as their businesses are still growing and are thus turning to temp workers to keep costs at bay.
But the news isn’t all good for temp workers.
ProPublica, the public interest journalism group, recently reported that temporary workers face a significantly greater risk of getting seriously injured or dying on the job than permanent workers.
The group reached this conclusion after analyzing data from workers’ compensation claims in California, Florida, Massachusetts, Minnesota and Oregon over a five-year period. This analysis revealed that the occurrence of workplace injuries for temporary employees was between 36 percent and 72 percent higher than that for permanent employees. The injury gap widened for workers in certain dangerous, blue-collar jobs, and narrowed for employees in less dangerous occupations. Temp workers are more likely to suffering crushing injuries, lacerations, fractures and amputations.
Why are temp workers at so much higher risk?
Evidence suggests that temp workers are more likely to be injured because they are often inadequately trained in safety measures when they come on the job– or are not trained at all. In addition, ProPublica reports that OSHA records show “it’s quite common for temps to be put to work without even the most rudimentary protective equipment.”
That temp workers are more likely than non-temp workers to lack of training or protective equipment is appalling. It’s particularly abhorrent in light of the fact that blue-collar temporary employees are 68% more likely than non-temp workers to be employed in 20% of occupations with the highest injury rates, according to ProPublica’s analysis. Temps are thus likely to be working in an unfamiliar environment, operating dangerous machines or performing tasks under or near hazardous conditions without knowing how to maximize their safety.
This is simply unacceptable. There is no excuse for a company putting its bottom line above the safety and health of the people working for it.
What should a temp employee do if their workplace is unsafe?
A few months ago, we discussed what New York workers should do if their workplace is unsafe. Temporary workers should do the exact same things. In addition, temp workers should discuss their concerns with the employment agency that outsourced them.
Remember: No matter whether you are a temporary employee or a permanent one, you have the right to work under safe conditions. In addition, employers have an obligation to provide necessary safety and health training to all workers in every workplace. And it is absolutely illegal for them to retaliate against you for drawing attention to safety concerns or injuries.
If you have any questions regarding an unsafe workplace or an injury or illness arising from an unsafe workplace, speak to an experienced Albany workers’ compensation lawyer. Contact Paul Giannetti today at (866) 868-2960 or contact me online.
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