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Temporary workers are denied workers' compensation in some cases

There appears to be a substantial problem with safety in the temporary worker segment of the labor market. Companies in Colorado and other states have been hiring temp workers for a long time. The trend escalated significantly since 2008 when economic realities made the use of temporary help even more profitable. For example, the company where the worker is placed doesn't even have to pay the workers' compensation premiums because the temp agency remains the employer under most arrangements between these companies.

That illogical employment relationship results in temp workers going to work in dangerous jobs without any training. They are also more likely to be hired in dangerous industries such as construction, warehousing and industrial manufacturing. Furthermore, since the employer is not even on-site, supervision of temp workers is thin and haphazard. Statistics show temp workers with far greater percentages of serious workplace accident than regular workers, according to a ProPublica study reported by the Huffington Post.

The injured temp worker may suffer delays in treatment because of disputes over which company will go forward with workers' compensation coverage. Additionally, workers will receive little support at the worksite or by the temp agency to process workers' compensation claims required by law. In fact, the report indicates that those who insisted on processing workers' compensation claims were likely to be denied future work assignments, which is a policy that is illegal by state and federal standards.

The statistics also showed temp workers roughly twice as likely to sustain severe crushing or other debilitating types of injuries. Amazingly, the report demonstrates that the temp worker was found to be subjected to a high incidence of first-day deaths on a temp assignment. Furthermore, temp workers apparently fall into a black hole of record-keeping for OSHA and other agencies who don't recognize this as a category of employment.

Thus, in Colorado and throughout the country it appears that illegalities tend to exist by the very nature of the temp worker labor market. Workers' compensation treatment and coverage may be ripe for legislative scrutiny. Based on the severity of the report, it may be time for the federal and state governments to recognize the problem and take appropriate corrective action where necessary.

Source: The Huffington Post, Temp Work Isn't Only Insecure -- It's More Dangerous Too, Olga Pierce, Jeff Larson and Michael Grabell, Dec. 18, 2013

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