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Temporary Worker Safety is on the Radar of OSHA

In late April, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration declared it would be focusing on the safety of temporary workers around the country. Also known as freelance, seasonal, contingent or contractual employees, these workers accounted for 12 percent of the workplace fatalities that occurred in 2011, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics data from the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries. The total number of fatal work-related injuries that year was 4,693, meaning temporary workers accounted for 542 deaths.

Many of these injuries occur early on during a temporary worker's stint at a new facility. This is why OSHA has issued a memorandum along with its new initiative. In that document, OSHA indicates what it expects in regards to safety and working conditions for temporary workers. The federal regulator has issued many citations regarding temporary workers in the past and hopes to see the number of citations decrease as the level of workplace safety for such employees increases.

According to the memo, temporary employees are often exposed to the most dangerous situations at a job. They also tend to be less proficient at speaking English and receive less training and protective measures than permanent employees.

Temporary workers often find their jobs through temp agencies that are often the organizations that pay them, not the host employer. Despite the temporary nature of these individuals' positions and the fact the agencies pay them, OSHA holds host employers responsible for supplying proper protective equipment and training. This means temporary workers should be treated like permanent employees.

Many employers take shortcuts when bringing a temporary worker on board, either purposefully or otherwise. This should be avoided by employers. Even though OSHA is making an effort for increased safety measures, it does not mean all employers will comply. Because of this, any worker in Texas - temporary or permanent - that is hurt on the job should speak to a lawyer about making a claim.

Source: hreonline.com, "OSHA Steps Up Temp Safety Efforts" Tom Starner, May. 28, 2013

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