A report recently released by the Center for Progressive Reform suggests that health and workplaces safety regulators need to do more to protect temporary workers from workplace hazards.
Los Angeles Social Security Disability Insurance Attorney Vincent Howard of HOWARD LAW knows that these workers, sometimes referred to as "contingent workers," are some of the most vulnerable in this country. They are tapped to perform work that is both undesirable and hazardous. They often lack the same kind of health insurance benefits offered to full-time or non-seasonal workers - including workers' compensation. Many times, their employers cut corners with regard to safety standards that should otherwise be in place.
Over the last 20 years, the number of temporary workers has exploded. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that it has more than doubled, reaching more than 2.5 million today. Numerous research findings show that these individuals suffer injuries - many of them serious - at a much higher rate than other workers.
The type of industries where we are most likely to find temporary workers are:
- Hotel services.
Many times, these workers are not only assigned to work that is dangerous, they often aren't given the right kind of safety equipment or training necessary to do the job and avoid injury.
One case that was brought to light by the CPR research was that of an Illinois worker assigned to a chemical plant by a temporary staffing company. He was instructed the first day to clean a large chemical tank. However, he was given little instruction and improper safety gear.
At some point during his day, he was suddenly sprayed with a near-boiling mixture of acid and water. He was severely burned on over 80 percent of his body. As if this wasn't bad enough, the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration failed to contact emergency crews. From the time of the incident to the time he arrived at the hospital, more than an hour-and-a-half had passed. The worker died in the hospital several weeks later.
The CPR report recommends that OSHA begin conducting enforcement checks on companies known to use temporary employees. Additionally, the researchers determined there should be a clear set of rules that should be issued that would ensure temporary laborers get the right amount of training and protective equipment.
Additionally, the center urged OSHA to rethink its Voluntary Protection Program. Through this initiative, companies can make themselves exempt from routine OSHA inspections by qualifying as a model workplace. However, deaths and injuries that are entirely preventable continue to happen at these sites as well. Despite that, these companies face very few consequences when that happens.
And finally, the last recommendation was that when it comes to some of the most dangerous work, companies should perhaps not be using a huge number of temporary workers. When firms have an investment in their employees, they are more apt to take steps to keep them safe.
Los Angeles Disability Benefits Attorney VINCENT HOWARD at HOWARD LAW can help. Call toll-free at 1-800-872-5925 or send us a message online.
Report suggests OSHA safeguard contingent workers, Jan. 11, 2013, By Chris Hamby, The Center for Public Integrity
Can SSDI Applicants Also Collect Unemployment? April 13, 2013