Even with a nominal recovery in the U.S. economy, experts state that around 17 million people were in temporary work positions in 2013 with more expected in subsequent years. A consequence of this trend is a visible increase in the number of workplace injuries. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has reported that on average temporary workers are injured at double the rate of those with permanent employment. Other studies have borne this out as well.
A recent conference that featured a discussion on the topic of reducing the higher rate of injuries pointed to a singular problem faced by temporary workers. These workers report to both a staffing agency and an employer contracting with the agency. With essentially two employers under an often complex legal arrangement, there is a lack of clarity over who is responsible for worker safety and compliance requirements. This leaves the workers facing both income insecurity and confusion in the aftermath of a workplace accident.
Several industry sectors were cited as having an increased risk of injuries, including construction, commercial and manufacturing workplaces. Two of the solutions offered by staffing industry representatives were to have the agencies contribute to workers’ compensation insurance and for staffing agencies to conduct routine safety evaluations of their employer clients.
Temporary work can offer a way for new or returning employees to update their job skills and gain experience in the field. However, there is a risk involved with the complex arrangements between staffing agencies and employers. Those who suffer an on-the-job injury may want to speak with an attorney to determine whether they are eligible to file a claim for benefits.