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Study: California temp-workers at higher risk for injury

A recent study of workers’ compensation claims says that temporary workers face a greater risk for injury in the workplace than non-temp workers. Businesses all across the country are turning to temp workers at a higher rate than in previous generations, according to ProPublica. While many workers need to take these jobs, some are finding that the dangers of temp work, especially in blue-collar jobs, may be carrying a higher risk of workplace injury.

Federal statistics show that in general, many workplace injuries occur early on for workers—often within the first three months of starting a new job. Commentators say that most temp workers do not reach that three-month anniversary date as many temp assignments are much shorter. That means that temporary workers are essentially nearly always in a new environment.

Several years ago researchers looked into a statistical analysis of workplace injuries in one state in the Pacific Northwest. That study revealed that temp workers were much more likely to be injured than workers with more traditional and standardized employment relationships. The 2010 study found that temporary workers in the construction and manufacturing sectors were twice as likely to be injured as their co-workers with a standard employment relationship. The researchers called for more study into the issue.

More recently, ProPublica conducted an analysis of workers’ compensation claims and occupational safety records in many states. The investigative organization says that temp workers in California have roughly a 50 percent greater risk of experiencing an on-the job injury than non-temp workers in California—similar to the Pacific Northwest state analysis.

Workplace safety officials say that many temp-workers may be treated as lesser workers as compared to direct employees of a company. When a worker is injured on the job, it can be difficult for the worker to know their rights. The legal analysis can be even more complicated for temps—workers who suffer an injury on the job should consider discussing their situation with legal counsel.

Source: ProPublica, “Podcast: Outsourcing Labor, Injuries to the Growing Temp Industry,” Minhee Cho, Jan. 24, 2014; ProPublica, “Temporary Work, Lasting Harm,” Michael Grabell, Olga Pierce and Jeff Larson, Dec. 18, 2013

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