Workers’ Compensation and Temp Work: Minnesotans See the Dangers

These days, temp work seems to be growing in popularity. A company gets the help that they need while they need it and the employee isn’t working the same job all of the time. Some prefer temp work because it gives them a little variety.

We’ll call this gentleman, “Dave.”

Dave was excited because he had graduated high school, completed federal job training, and was sending out applications to prospects. One day, he finally got a job through a temp agency. It didn’t pay much, but he would be working for a popular company making one of the best products in the world.

He was looking forward to paying his mom back money that he owed her and starting a life with his fiancée who was living in another city. Dave couldn’t wait to tell his mother that he had gotten a job and where. He also asked her if she could pick him up and take him to buy the steel-toe boots and clothing that his job required. He had to do this before attending his 15-minute orientation before his shift.

The family was excited.

When Dave walked into the factory, it was hot and there were fans running and industrial machines clanking. It was his first day working in the first job he ever had. He was so excited that he went to the bathroom and took a picture of himself in the mirror with his work gear on. He texted the photo to his fiancée and told her he would call her on his break.

When Dave walked into the factory, he entered one of the most dangerous segments of the labor market and that is blue-collar temp work.

Companies have been turning to temporary employment since the recession and now it employs 2.8 million workers and it is carrying a human cost.

An analysis by ProPublica says that there are millions of claims for workers’ compensation in Minnesota and all over the U.S. and temps face a greater risk of getting injured. In fact, the risk among Minnesota temps is 72 percent. This is among the highest percentages in the country.

However, the statistics understate the dangers that blue-collar temps like David face. Nationwide, temporary workers are more likely to find jobs in dangerous fields, such as warehousing and manufacturing. This means that the likelihood of injury grows.

Out of 100 temp workers that ProPublica interviewed, there were a total of 50 OSHA investigations that involved accidents among temp workers.

The OSHA files showed that the injury situations occur again and again. This is because the workers go through short orientations and they are untrained. Permanent employees are trained and they have experience on the job, so temps usually have to rely on the experienced workers to learn more about what they are to do and what the safety practices are. However, learning from trained workers is not always safe because they’re not trained to train.

Unfortunately, companies do not always have to pay when a temp worker gets hurt and this results in the worker having to fight it out over a period of time in order to get the medical benefits and compensation that they need to recover.

As for Dave, he suffered a back injury on the job, just when his fiancée was expecting a baby. While he had to fight for compensation, he did receive it and learned that temp work came with a price.