Temporary workers make up a growing portion of the modern day workforce. A recent report by ProPublica, an independent newsroom that investigates public interest stories, addressed how this growing workforce is being taken advantage of in the U.S.
More on the investigative report
The report discussed how this generation of temporary workers has taken the place of previous generations of migrant workers. The story compared the plight of temporary workers to the low wage and unsafe conditions common in the agricultural industry of the 1950s. According to the investigation, many temporary workers receive serious and sometimes fatal workplace injuries due to unsafe conditions. Some highlighted accidents within the report included:
- Crushing accidents. A young man suffered serious injuries after he was crushed by a bottling machine on the first day of his temporary job with a Bacardi bottling plant.
- Poor conditions. A bad work environment can lead to a variety of injuries. For example, improper ventilation can lead to injuries from inhaling dangerous fumes. Employers may take advantage of temporary workers in these situations, since they are only working in these conditions for a short period of time.
- Improper training. Without proper training workers can become seriously injured. Proper training often includes informing workers of the need to take breaks when the weather is unfavorable, a particular issue in summer months. The investigation discovered the story of a man who was filling in on a garbage route who collapsed and died from heat stroke.
Researchers with the report noted that temporary workers are highly relied on in New Jersey. Five New Jersey counties, Middlesex, Passaic, Burlington, Camden and Union were listed as having some of the highest concentrations of temporary workers in the country.
Temporary workers, injuries and workers' compensation
As noted above, poor conditions and a lack of proper training can make temporary workers particularly susceptible to injuries. Unfortunately, it can be difficult for these workers to qualify for compensation to help cover the cost of medical treatment and rehabilitative care. The Society for Human Resource Management advises employers that they can be held liable if a temporary worker is injured on the job. However, temporary employees may have a more difficult time receiving these benefits, as they can potentially qualify for workers' compensation under two different companies: the client company and the temp company. The client company is the company that the temp worker is serving when he or she is injured and the temp company is the agency that found the position for the worker.
Determining which employer covers the employee in these unique situations can be difficult. As a result, those injured in a workplace accident should contact an experienced New Jersey work injury lawyer to help guide them through the process and better ensure their chances of success.