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Man killed in workplace injury, OSHA cites five companies

The problem with the safety and reported abuse of temporary workers continues in the national workforce, including in Colorado. Recently, OSHA cited five companies in connection with the death of a temporary worker at an Amazon fulfillment center. The man died from crush injuries after being caught and mangled in a conveyor system. Although temporary workers are covered for workers' compensation, studies show that they suffer a significantly higher incidence of workplace injury than permanent employees.

OSHA reports that it cited four temporary staffing agencies and a contractor in charge of the site for violations in not handling the placement and protection of temporary workers. The contractor, Genco, was employed by Amazon to direct the placement of temporary workers from four staffing agencies. The workers performed sorting operations, such as monitoring the packages for proper positioning as they passed along the conveyor and sorting belts.

OSHA has cited Genco on a charge of failing to certify that it conducted a hazard assessment prior to assigning temporary workers to jobs at the site. The four temporary staffing agencies were also cited for failing to perform hazard assessments of the facility prior to sending clients there to work. In the past year, studies have indicated that temporary workers are exposed to hazards without appropriate training and sometimes without on-site supervision. The temp agencies usually list the workers as their own employees, which tends to take the concern off of the shoulders of the on-site company owners. The temp agencies then in many cases fail to provide proper training and supervision for their so-called employees, leaving them in a relatively unsupervised environment.

OSHA emphasized in a press release that temp agencies and host employers are both responsible for the safety and protection of temporary employees. This includes evaluating the work site in advance in order to assure that they are protected from workplace injury due to hazardous situations. The problem currently exists nationwide, including in Colorado. If the dangers to temporary workers continue to be of critical concern, the workers may find it prudent to fashion tort actions in addition to workers' compensation claims, in order to seek necessary changes.

Source: Occupational Health & Safety, "OSHA Cites 5 Companies Following Dec. 2013 Amazon Fatality", , June 17, 2014

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