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OSHA aims to guard temporary labor force from workplace injuries

Pennsylvania residents should be aware that in 2012, an astounding 4,383 workers lost their lives at their workplace. Interestingly, 708 of those fatalities, 16%, involved a temporary worker. In a time when the percentage of temporary workers is steadily on the rise, this is one major concern that the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) plans to address in 2014.

The federal agency is cracking down on employers and temporary staffing agencies that fail to meet safety standards at workplaces. OSHA's initiative has already resulted in a number of employers being cited for safety violations, including a $135,200 fine to a vegetable processor and staffing agency in Texas, and a $40,600 fine to a cereal maker in Georgia. OSHA also cited five companies, including four staffing agencies, for the death of a worker at an Amazon facility in New Jersey.

Recently, a senior OSHA official mentioned in an address that observations over the last 100 years show that a "new worker" is three to four times more likely to be injured on the job than a worker with one year's experience. This analysis holds true for temporary workers as well because they are "new" to a job, typically, as many as four to six times a year. Moreover, temporary workers are often assigned the more dangerous jobs at the workplace, often without proper training, thus, exposing them to greater risks.

In April 2013, OSHA launched its campaign focusing on improving workplace safety for temporary workers. The campaign urged employers to take corrective action on potential hazards in its workplace and ensure that OSHA's safety guidelines were followed. OSHA also formed an alliance with the American Staffing Association to educate workers about workers' compensation benefits. The alliance also reiterated the staffing agencies and their clients about their responsibilities toward temporary workers.

A workplace accident usually leads to a number of difficulties for an injured worker and his or her family. Medical expenses compounded by lost wages are tough financial challenges a worker may face. In such situations, experienced guidance from a professional for obtaining adequate workers' compensation may benefit an injured worker and his or her family in Pennsylvania.

Source: EHS Today, "Safety 2014: OSHA Focusing on Protecting Temporary Workers," Josh Cable, July 3, 2014

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