Will rising temp workforce affect workers' compensation law?

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration issues regulations for employers in many different types of industries. Such laws are intended to make workplaces safer for workers by requiring preventative safety measures, as well as safety protocols, to apply to potentially dangerous activities.

If a worker does sustain an on-the-job injury, most California employers have workers’ compensation insurance policies that may provide for lost wages and medical expenses, until a worker is able to return to work. The nexus between onsite safety protocols and an injury policy is the employer. Indeed, the employer is often in an ideal vantage point to observe whether workplace injuries might require new safety protocols.

Yet a new workforce trend calls into question whether workplace safety may be affected. Specifically, a number of studies reflect a growing number of temporary, or temp workers. Such workers may be employees of another company, but assigned to duties at a different location.

Under current workers’ compensation laws, the staffing agency that employs a temp worker will likely be the entity responsible for any workplace injuries. Yet that staffing agency is not onsite, and thus may not best positioned to protect workers. Furthermore, the staffing agency may not know whether the onsite company is compliant with OSHA practices until it is too late.

However, temp workers do have rights under the law. A workers’ compensation attorney might provide valuable insight into whether a temp worker should voice potential safety concerns to the staffing agency or directly to an OSHA representative. An attorney may also be familiar with the procedures necessary for contesting any unfair workers’ compensation policies, in the event of an injury.

Source: businessinsider.com, “Workers Across America Are Getting Stuck In Crappy Temp Jobs,” Michael Grabell, July 8, 2013

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