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Temps may face greater workplace injury risk

A new study from ProPublica reports that temporary workers are more likely to get injured on the job than non-temp workers. The report comes on the heels of a string of deaths involving blue collar temp workers who died on the job after reportedly receiving little training. According to the report, temporary workers in California are 50 percent more likely to suffer workplace injuries than non-temp employees.

The number of temps working in manufacturing, construction and other blue collar jobs has increased since the recession. Today, a record 2.8 million workers are employed as temps. In a review of Occupational Safety and Health Administration accident reports, many of the same hazards are repeated time and time again. Temp workers are often left to work outdoors in excessive heat with few or no water breaks, and there have also been incidents of temp workers inhaling toxic fumes and being crushed by heavy machinery or equipment.

Many temp workers are employed on day-to-day contracts, which means they are assumed to have quit at the end of every shift until they show up for the next day's shift. Workers are also at risk of receiving a "DNR" if they complain about conditions. DNR stands for "Do Not Return" and is given to a temp if the place of employment does not want a particular worker to return. If a worker receives too many DNRs, he or she may not receive any further jobs.

Temp workers who are injured on the job or feel that their rights to safety are being violated may not know where to turn for assistance. Workers also may feel frightened that speaking up could result in their termination. An attorney with work injury experience could advise a worker on how to best proceed with their concerns. If the worker was injured, the attorney could represent them in court or in hearings.

Source: MinnPost, "Temporary work, lasting harm", Michael Grabell, Olga Pierce and Jeff Larson, December 23, 2013

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