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Temporary Workers, Risky Situations

4.24.14

Howard Mavity was quoted in the Human Resource Executive article entitled “Temporary Workers, Risky Situations.”

Lawrence Daquan "Day" Davis began his first day of work at a Bacardi bottling plant in Jacksonville, Fla., in August 2012.

Unfortunately, Davis didn't make it to his first break period. He was crushed to death that morning by a machine that loaded pallets after being sent to sweep up broken glass from under the machine. Davis' co-workers hadn't realized he was still under the machine when they turned it back on.

An investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration later determined that Bacardi failed to, among other things, properly train its temporary workers, of which Davis was one, to operate the machine and levied fines totaling $192,000 on the company.

Nearly 3 million Americans are employed as temporary workers, up by 28 percent between 2010 and last year, according to a new report from CareerBuilder and Economic Modeling Specialists.

A recent analysis of workers' compensation data by the nonprofit news organization ProPublica found that in five U.S. states, temps face a much higher risk of getting injured on the job than permanent employees.

To help clarify the issue of which party is responsible for recording work-related injuries involving temporary workers, OSHA has just released a new booklet that explains OSHA 300 recordkeeping responsibilities for staffing firms and their clients.

The new booklet is part of OSHA's Temporary Worker Initiative, launched by the agency last year in the wake of the outcry over the deaths of Davis and other temporary workers.

In some cases, HR departments may mistakenly assume that temps have already received sufficient safety training from the staffing firms that supply them, explained Howard.

"Safety training is actually 10 percent classroom and 90 percent on-the-job," he said.

The informal nature of many on-the-job training programs can mean many temps go without it, which undermines their safety, said Howard.

"Many employers intuitively understand that the jobs requiring more training and experience don't go to the new folks, it's a common principle," he said.

In other cases, plant managers may forget to include temps in normal safety processes, such as routine safety training and briefings, or ensure they're supplied with company-provided personal-protective equipment, he said.

"If you have temps performing the same job as full-timers, you've got to remember they are not going to be miraculously prevented from harm just because they're temps," Howard said.

Click here to read the full article on Human Resource Executive.

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