As part of the United States Department of Labor, the mission of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is “to assure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education, and assistance.” OSHA’s rules and regulations are intended to reduce on-the-job illnesses, injuries, and fatalities. While some workplace accidents are covered by worker’s compensation, others are not. One of the biggest factors in determining how a worker’s injuries are covered is the worker’s status with the employer.
According to OSHA, temporary staffing agencies and host employers share control over the worker, and are therefore jointly responsible for temporary workers' safety and health.
Staffing agencies have a duty to determine:
- what conditions exist at their host employers,
- what hazards temporary workers may encounter, and
- how best to ensure protection for their temporary workers.
Host employers must treat temporary workers like any other workers in terms of training and safety and health protections.
Workers have a right to a safe workplace and can report concerns to OSHA by calling 1-800-321-OSHA (6742).
A temporary worker placed by a staffing agency into a position at a host company is typically not an employee of the company. Instead, the general rule is that the agency is responsible for carrying workers’ compensation coverage. However, there are many instances where the temp firm and their client, the host company, grapple over who is liable when a temp worker gets hurt – sometimes even causing medical care to be delayed while they sort it out.
Temporary workers are commonplace in several industries, notably construction and manufacturing, with employment rates as high as 3.17 million people. A recent analysis of millions of workers’ compensation claims over a five-year period revealed that in Florida, temporary workers had about a 50 percent greater risk of being injured on the job than permanent workers. Florida data also showed that temporary employees in blue-collar workplaces were about six times more likely to be injured than permanent employees doing similar jobs and that these blue-collar temps tended to be manual laborers who have higher injury rates than those experienced by supervisors and skilled technicians. Temps here were about three times more likely than regular employees to suffer an amputation on the job and twice as likely to suffer crushing injuries, dislocations, lacerations, fractures, and punctures.
The analysis determined that the claims rate of temp workers increased in Florida during that five-year period while that of regular workers held steady or fell. It is generally believed that temp worker injuries are underreported due to fears of being blacklisted by the staffing agency. Injury reports have been known to be used as a reason for a host company to tell an agency not to send a worker again. The more “Do Not Return” marks a worker gets, the less likely he or she will be assigned. Temp workers also might be less likely to report injures due to ignorance of the process.
Temp work in certain industries is particularly dangerous. Some of that danger can be traced to inadequate training, since many temporary positions are in new environments, operating unfamiliar machinery or performing unfamiliar tasks. Another issue uncovered by OSHA is that it is common for temps to work without proper protective equipment. Further, temps are encouraged to cut corners to keep production on time.
We Can Help
Both the temp agency and the host company are responsible for the safety of temporary workers. If you are trying to put your life back together after a work-related injury or if you have lost a loved one in a fatal workplace accident, trust your case to the attorneys at Stabinski & Funt, P.A. For 45 years, we have advocated for countless personal injury victims and their families throughout South Florida. We offer risk-free consultations and work on a contingency basis, which means that we do not require you to pay any fees until we have secured a recovery on your behalf. If you have any questions about this topic, feel free to contact us by calling 305-964-8644 or filling out a free case evaluation form.