Temporary Workers at Greater Risk of Injury and Death

Posted on Dec 19, 2013

The public interest media group, Pro Publica, recently reported on the increased risk of injury and death for temporary workers. Since the 2008 recession, employers have more heavily relied upon temporary work to meet production, and keep down costs.

A study of workers' compensation records for the State of Oregon show that temporary workers are at a 66% greater risk of injury then permanent workers. The rate of injuries for temporary workers has been on the rise over the past five years in Oregon, while the injury rate for permanent workers has fallen. Examples of recurring injuries include suffocation while cleaning out chemical tanks, injuries involving heavy machinery, or exposure to excessive heat.

A study 2010 of Washington State workers showed that temporary workers in construction and manufacturing suffered twice the number of reported injuries than regular workers doing the same kind of work.

Anecdotal evidence points to inadequate training is a major factor in the increased injury rate for temporary workers. Many employers have a financial incentive to keep injury rates down when paying insurance premiums for their workers' compensation coverage, but temporary workers are not an employee of the company they are working for, but instead an employee of the temporary agency.  The article cites OSHA investigations that employers provided little or no training to temps.  There is little if any incentive for an employer to properly train the temporary worker.

Oregon Workers' Compensation law generally immunizes the employer from direct liability, even when the worker is a temporary worker. However, there are limited exceptions. If you are a temporary worker, and have been injured on the job, call us at 503-325-8600. We can explore all the options.