Construction is already known as a dangerous field; with other industries’ injury rates going down, however, construction continues to remain high.
ProPublica put out a piece recently focusing not just on the construction industry’s already high rate but the elevated risks for temporary workers.
Since 2008, the amount of temporary workers has increased, with 2.8 million – or one in 20 blue collar workers – employed in such positions. While the Federal Government doesn’t track temporary workers, ProPublica’s analysis looked at Workers’ Compensation claims and 50 OSHA investigations, and their assessment shows that, even in already high-risk industries, temporary workers are in an even more perilous position.
Specifically, the findings show that, in California and Florida, injury risks increase 50 percent for temporary workers, compared to permanent employees. When similar positions were examined, the temporary workers were six times as likely to be injured on the job.
The most common injuries temporary workers experienced were crushing, dislocation, laceration, fractures, punctures, and amputations and, according to ProPublica’s findings, can be attributed to the following scenarios:
• Workers are not trained properly, including not receiving instruction to operate equipment correctly, on safety procedures, on how to handle emergency situations, or on the specific task at hand. In certain cases, the temp agency trained workers on one task, and at the worksite, the employer assigned the employee a far more dangerous task without training.
• The worksite delays medical care. When an injury occurs to a temporary worker on the jobsite, the company may go back and forth regarding where to send the temp for medical care.
• Employers cut corners with their own permanent staff. As ProPublica pointed out in one instance regarding a Barcardi plant in Jacksonville, none of the employees knew how to fully shut off the machinery to clean away broken glass bottles, and the procedure written on the equipment seemed confusing. High production quotas further resulted in employees not taking proper safety precautions.
• Job-appropriate personal protective equipment isn’t always provided. In certain cases, the building site owner provided the temporary workers with less equipment than their permanent employees.
Nevertheless, even with similarly findings exposed as early as 2010, claims for on-the-job injuries for temporary workers in construction, manufacturing, and warehousing have increased over the past five years.