Improving Safety for Contract Workers

on 02/01/2013

Earlier this month, the Houston work injury lawyers at our firm blogged about the increasing safety concerns involving temporary or contract workers.  The number of such workers has increased recently, as more companies have chosen to add on temp workers to their force to avoid workers compensation and health insurance expenses.

These workers are at a high risk of suffering severe or fatal injuries because they're often assigned to more dangerous jobs, and lack access to training and proper protection gear that can prevent injuries.  The Center for Progressive Reform recently released a report that offers strategies to help protect temporary workers from serious injuries.

The report suggests that workers be well educated and well trained about their rights.  Informed workers are more able to identify hazards in the environment, and avoid these.

The report suggests that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration work to empower temporary or contract workers, allowing them to take action when they find that their employer is breaking workplace safety laws.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration should also enhance its enforcement strategies to include temporary workers.  For instance, there are some industries that are more likely to hire temporary workers, like the construction and farming industries.  The federal agency could focus at least some of its efforts in these industries, to reduce the risk to such workers.

Many contingent workers are at risk of ergonomic hazards.  The report suggests that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration issue industry-specific ergonomic policies, that are targeted towards temp workers in particular industries.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration should also revisit the Voluntary Protection Program to include more protections for temporary workers.

The federal agency could also look into closing loopholes in its statutes that limit protections to farm workers and other at-risk workers.

Temp workers are typically foreign workers.  It would help if language barriers were eliminated by enhancing these workers’ English language skills, so that they have more access to training and have better awareness of their rights.

Tags: Construction Site Work Injuries, Workplace Injury, OSHA

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