Temporary workers are more likely to be injured or killed on the job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Since 2012, contract worker deaths account for more than 15 percent of all workplace fatalities in the United States. That number was even higher in 2016 when almost 850 contract workers, or about 16 percent of the workforce, suffered a fatality.
Why Are Temporary Workers at a Higher Risk?
Temporary workers are often treated in a different manner than regular workers, according to the National Safety Council (NSC). In many cases, they do not receive the same job training given to regular employees, plus they may suffer from a lack of standard protective equipment. Also, employers frequently assign their most dangerous jobs and repetitive tasks to temporary workers in order to lower the employer’s cost of workers’ comp for regular employees.
Safety experts also say the higher risk of injury may be due to the contract worker’s unfamiliarity with the workplace and its potential hazards, especially when employers reassign workers to a less familiar job without notifying the contract agency. Temporary employees may also be reluctant to speak out about a potential danger for fear of losing their job. They may even volunteer for the more dangerous jobs in the hope of being offered permanent employment.
Protection for Temporary Workers
As a temporary worker, it is important that you protect yourself from injuries as much as possible. Begin by inquiring into the safety training that you will receive from the contract agency. Find out what you should do if you are asked to perform a task that is potentially dangerous or one in which you have not been properly trained.
Always have the contract agency’s name and phone number handy so that you can contact them whenever you feel unsafe on the job. Finally, make sure that the contract agency carries workers’ comp insurance that will adequately compensate you if you get hurt on the job. If there is any doubt about how to do that, you may want to hire an attorney with experience in workplace injuries.