Among workers nationwide, temporary workers are particularly vulnerable to injury, and even death, at work. Since 2012, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) figures, annual deaths of temporary (contract) workers have accounted for over 15% of fatalities at workplaces throughout the country. In 2016, this added up to 856 contract workers dying on the job, which was over 16% of that year’s 5,190 workplace fatalities.
Why Are the Dangers to Temporary Workers So High?
There are a variety of reasons. As reported in a recent edition of the National Safety Council’s Safety & Health magazine, some employers view temporary workers as separate from their regular workforce and treat them differently. These workers might not receive a formal orientation to the company, proper job and safety training, or even the same protective equipment that regular employees receive.
Additionally, some employers may assign temporary workers to more dangerous job assignments or more highly repetitive tasks to shift their risk of having to pay workers’ compensation to permanent employees, said an NSC director interviewed for the article. Implementing an enhanced worker compensation system can help address these issues and ensure fair treatment for all employees. Typically, the contract agency rather than the host employer would pay workers’ comp for injuries contract workers suffer. However, this may not always be the case in Texas, because the state is the only one in the country that doesn’t require most private employers to carry workers’ comp, although private employers who contract with government entities must carry it.
Other reasons safety experts cite for the greater dangers that temp employees face include:
- Unfamiliarity with their workplace and its potential hazards
- A fear of speaking up about safety concerns and potentially losing a job they need
- A desire to make a good impression by not rocking the boat, or by taking on more difficult or dangerous jobs, in the hopes of being offered a permanent job
- Different cultural outlooks about safety
- Employers who change their job assignments to jobs they may be unfamiliar with, without notifying the contracting agencies.
How to Protect Yourself
If you’re a temporary worker, there are some things you can do to lessen on-the-job dangers to yourself. It starts with the staffing company who hires you to go to work for the host employer. When you sign up with a contracting agency, ask what kind of safety training you will receive and what to do if you are told to perform a potentially dangerous job that you are uncomfortable with. Carry the name and number with you of a contact person at your hiring agency so that you can reach out to them should you feel unsafe in your job.
Also, ask the contracting agency if they carry workers’ comp and whether you will be covered under it should you be injured on the job. Be aware that in Texas nonsubscriber companies, which are companies that elect not to carry workers’ comp for their employees, are much more vulnerable to workplace injury lawsuits than those that carry workers’ compensation.
Contact a Houston Work Injury Attorney
If you’ve been injured on the job, an experienced work injury attorney can help. Contact the experienced lawyers at the accident and injury law office of Terry Bryant for a free consultation today.