Since the economic recession in 2008, many companies have turned to using temporary workers for factory, construction and warehouse jobs. This cuts back on costs, but at the expense of an increasing trend of injuries and sometimes even death.
The temp industry now employs a record 2.8 million workers. An analysis of workers’ compensation claims filed by temp workers shows that in five states (one fifth of the population in America), there is a significantly increased risk of injury on the job.
Day Davis, a temp worker, was on his first day of work at his very first job…ever. He was working at the Bacardi bottling plant in Jacksonville, Florida, and very excited to finally earn some money. He had plans to pay his mother back money owed, buy some things he’s been wanting, and maybe even begin a life with his fiancé who lived in Atlanta.
Unfortunately, like many other temp workers, his first day of work would be his last. Though this video of what happened to him this horrible day is not graphic, it is very troubling. This is the surveillance of his last moments before losing his life on the job…
Two of the biggest states, California and Florida, have a 50 percent greater risk of temp workers being injured on the job than non-temp workers. In Massachusetts, this risk is 36% higher, 66% in Oregon and 72% in Minnesota. Many temp workers are more likely to be hired by manufacturing and warehouse employers, increasing their likelihood of injury quite a bit.
Severe injuries like crushing, dislocations, fractures, lacerations and punctures are twice as likely to happen to a temp worker than to a permanent worker who is trained well.
According to Propublica, who conducted a thorough investigation and studied OSHA files, horrific injuries involving chemical inhalation, getting caught in grinding machines, and heat stroke related injuries occur over and over again.
The lack of regulations in the temp world is part of the problem. Workers are not trained properly, partly because the company employing them is not responsible for a temp worker’s injuries. You would think they would have the integrity and regard for human life to train them regardless…But, like Day’s story above, they don’t seem to care.
As a matter of fact, when a worker is injured, the temp agency is actually responsible for paying the workman’s compensation. This seems erroneous since they have absolutely no control over the job site.
OSHA director David Michaels admits his alarm at the number of temp workers killed on their first day on the job. Policy makers are slow to do anything about this, though, because there is not enough data. Although the government regulates every other industry, it does not keep records and statistics on temp agency workers.
A groundbreaking 2010 study of Washington State’s workers’ comp claims found that temp workers in construction and manufacturing had twice the claims rate of regular workers doing the same type of work.
The way things are now, it is next to impossible to track these records nationwide because states have very different regulations. Some consider claims to be confidential and will not release the information, while others are not even required to carry workmen’s compensation insurance.
Propublica has data, however, that they collected by examining workmen’s comp claim over a five year period of time (more than 3.5 million claims) in the states of California, Florida, Massachusetts, Minnesota and Oregon. These are the results:
- Temp workers caught in machines or struck by heavy objects were significantly higher.
- In California, temps were twice as likely to suffer heat exhaustion.
- In Minnesota, chemical injuries occurred three times more often for temp workers than regular employees.
- While records of injury for regular workers have stayed steady, or even decreased, claims rates for temp workers is getting worse.
- Though this record may be imperfect due to false claims, or workers being deterred by employers from filing claims, experts suggest the records more than likely undercount injuries. Many times temp workers won’t file a claim because they want to be rehired by the agency, and it makes them look bad.
According to OSHA, the Bacardi bottling plant was a demonstration of the hazards many temp workers face. They believe this company put profits over safety, and treats its workers like second class citizens. Of course, Bacardi disputes this.
Bacardi Bottling Corp. was cited with 12 alleged safety violations, some very serious. OSHA requires that employers protect the health and safety of all workers under their supervision and control. This applies to temp workers as well.
Day Davis did what many seeking jobs are faced with today…Finding initial work through a temp agency to eventually earn a full-time job at a factory, construction site or warehouse. Machines can be very dangerous, especially if workers are untrained. On top of this, many temp workers are consistently moved from job to job, making them “new” employees again and again, and exposing them to even higher risks.
It is unjust for these workers to lose their lives because companies are unwilling to take the time to train a new employee properly. If you or a loved one has been seriously injured on the job, or suffered loss of life, you are entitled to justice through compensation.
These companies need to be held responsible for putting money above human life. To discuss your case with an experienced attorney, contact Passen Law Group at 312-527-4500 and we will help you sort through the facts.