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US – Group Cites Temp Safety, Calls for Tougher Rules

January 14 2013

A new report by the Center for Progressive Reform claims contract labor is bringing new threats to worker safety and calls for the federal government to crack down on firms that use a lot of temps. The group is a Washington-based nonprofit formed in 2002.

The white paper report focuses temporary workers in farming, construction (including day laborers that are hired outside big box stores), warehousing and the hotel industry.

“Whether it’s day laborers doing construction jobs or hotel housekeepers on temporary contracts, safety dangers are magnified because contingent workers don't always get the training they need, and because employers don’t have a permanent responsibility to the worker,” Martha McCluskey, a coauthor of the report, said in a press release. McClusky is also a professor at the University of Buffalo Law School

“Contingent workers are disproportionately racial minorities and often come from vulnerable socio-economic backgrounds,” McClusky said. “Increasingly, employers are treating them as expendable, accepting high injury rates because the company is largely insulated from the economic consequences. As a result, contingent workers suffer frequent injuries on the job. Federal worker safety policy needs to take on the challenge of protecting this work force, or contingent workers will be left to the mercy of employers who have little economic incentive to protect them.”

For example, in warehousing, the report says workers are subject to repetitive stress injuries, dangerous equipment such as unstable racks and poorly maintained forklifts, and extremes in temperature such as extreme heat in the summer.

The group has several recommendations for Congress and OSHA, including:

  • Congress should amend the Occupational Safety and Health Act to include a private right-of-action to allow any person to bring a suit in federal court under the act.
  • OSHA should establish rules so that workers receive a minimum of job- and site-specific training. OSHA should also expand funding for community organizations to provide training.
  • OSHA should conduct sweeps of industries where contingent workers are most prevalent. And enhanced penalties should be issued against employers that have large numbers of contingents and fail to make special accommodations for those workers in the firm’s health and safety programs.
  • Ergonomic standards should be crafted by OSHA for specific industries, beginning with industries where contingent workers suffer high rates of musculoskeletal injuries.
  • OSHA’s voluntary protection program should be revised so firms involved do not use significant numbers of contingent workers in high-hazard jobs.
  • A clearinghouse for information should be started by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to track data on health hazards in industries where contingent workers are prevalent.
  • OSHA should continue efforts to bring in staff able to communicate with workers that don’t speak English.

For the full report, click here.


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Dunhill Staffing Systems

Neil Whitman CPC01/14/2013 04:11 pm

An interesting read. I'm always skeptical when I see the work progressive in a company's name and this one proved me right. Yes, all workers should receive proper training and the opportunity to work in a safe environment. But then this author goes on to blame our society for the circumstances these workers find themselves in. When will someone in a "progressive" organization believe that individuals have some responsibility for their life's circumstances.

Banner Personnel Service, Inc.

Bruce Paul01/14/2013 02:54 pm

It seems that the author does not understand the responsibilities of the employer of record for the contingent employee. The cost of Workmans Compensation insurance falls directly on the staffing provider and is reflected in the bill rates charged to the work site operator. They pay through the 3rd party if they have bad safety habits.

And, as for the OSHA reporting, all incidents are reported on a site-by-site basis, so there is already sufficient oversight within the existing regulations.

In this age of limited financial capacity for government programs, this is just a really bad idea.

It makes sense that someone in the business of creating lawyers would be trying to create more unnecessary regulation and opportunities for litigation.

Total 2 comments