The anecdotes are numerous:
- The contract worker from Alabama who died after falling down an elevator shaft at a Louisville cement factory;
- The temp worker at Amazon.com who died after being crushed by equipment at the plant’s New Jersey facility;
- The 21-year-old Florida temp worker who died his first day on the job at the Jacksonville Bacardi Bottling facility after he was crushed by a palletizer machine.
Our work injury lawyers in Montgomery wish we could say these incidents were fairly uncommon. But fact of the matter is, temporary workers are at grave risk of harm on the job. This is particularly true in occupations such as warehousing and manufacturing.
ProPublica reports that, in 2008 when the recession first hit, employers that had laid off large swaths of workers began replacing them with those brought in by temp agencies. Some 2.8 million workers are employed by temp agencies.
Often these workers aren’t properly trained or equipped to do these jobs safely.
What’s more, when an injury does occur, establishing liability can be difficult. In many cases, temporary workers are not technically employees of the company where they work, so these firms are able to avoid paying benefits or workers’ compensation insurance.
Injured temp workers may be entitled to workers’ compensation through the temp agency, and for serious injuries, third-party liability lawsuits may be filed against the firm where they worked or other responsible entites.
An analysis by ProPublica of millions of worker compensation claims found that in five states, temp workers face a much higher risk of injury than permanent workers. In Florida and California, for example, temps were 50 percent more likely to be injured. In Massachusetts, the risk was more than 35 percent. In Oregon, it was more than 65 percent. In Minnesota, it was more than 70 percent.
The disparity was particularly pronounced with regard to severe injuries. In Florida, for example, temporary workers were twice as likely as permanent workers to suffer dislocations, fractures, crushing injuries, punctures and lacerations. In a great number of these cases, workers are untrained, poorly equipped and improperly monitored.
And the problem is worsening. While permanent worker injury rates are falling, that of temporary workers has risen. And the issue may be understated, as temp workers may fear blacklisting by their agency if they report injuries.
Most workers who suffer on-the-job injuries can’t sue their employer for damages, and they are limited as to what they can get from workers’ compensation. However, in these scenarios, the factories or manufacturing firms are considered “third parties.” Negligence on their part – failure to train, failure to equip, failure to warn, failure to supervise – could be grounds for a third-party liability lawsuit. Other potentially responsible parties could be contractors, subcontractors and other providers.
Where faulty equipment was involved, there may also be possible claims made against manufacturers of defective products. Our Montgomery work accident lawyers are committed to identifying liable parties and working to help temporary workers obtain the compensation they deserve.
Call Allred & Allred P.C. at 334.396.9200 for help after an injury.
Temporary Work, Lasting Harm, Dec. 18, 2013, By Michael Grabell, Olga Pierce and Jeff Larson, ProPublica
More Blog Entries:
Montgomery Premises Liability Claims With Multiple Defendants, Jan. 15, 2014, Montgomery Work Injury Lawyer Blog