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Temps Have Greater Chance of Workplace Accident, Says ProPublica

The most dangerous sector of the U.S. labor market is blue-collar temporary work. And there are now 2.8 million temporary workers in the country, according to a story in ProPublica. The journal's analysis of workers compensation claims shows that in the five states studied, temporary workers face a much greater risk of workplace accident, injury and death.

The data are sobering:

· Minnesota temporary workers are 72 percent more likely to be injured or killed

· Oregon temps have a 66 greater chance of injury or death

· California and Florida temps have a 50 percent greater chance of being injured on the job than non-temps

· Massachusetts temps are 36 percent more likely to be hurt or killed

ProPublica did not study New York data for this story, but the story is similar in every state. Nationwide, temporary workers are more likely to work in occupations such as manufacturing and warehousing - dangerous occupations to begin with.

When compared with permanent employees, a temporary worker in Florida is two times more likely to suffer a serious workplace accident that results in injuries such as crushing injuries, lacerations, dislocations, punctures and fractures. They were three times more likely to experience an amputation than permanent workers.

Blue-collar work is only lightly regulated, and workers are often sent to perform dangerous jobs with little or no training. They clean the inside of chemical tanks, operate machines such as food grinders and tire shredders and spend hours in the heat working on roofs and garbage trucks.

There is a huge advantage for companies who hire temporary workers, especially companies in dangerous industries such as construction and manufacturing. The hiring company does not have to pay increased workers compensation insurance premiums, even if they have a poor workplace safety record. The reason: The temporary company takes the risk and pays the premiums. Consequently, the hiring company has no incentive to provide adequate training or implement safety procedures that could prevent injuries.

Read more about the ProPublica investigation of temporary workers in our next blog post.

Source: ProPublica, "How We Calculated Injury Rates for Temp and Non-Temp Workers," Dec. 18, 2013.

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