The Bollinger Law Firm, P.C.

OSHA pushing for temporary workers' safety


Finding a job is hard enough, but when North Carolina residents are employed in jobs for which they do not have adequate training, they may end up sustaining injuries on the job. This is the risk that temporary workers face routinely-the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) fears that these workers are placed in a variety of jobs for which they have not received proper training, sometimes even doing the most hazardous jobs in the workplace. According to them, temporary workers are more susceptible to workplace safety issues.

Since temporary workers are covered by both the host agency and the staffing agency, it is easy for them to get lost in the workplace. However, it is the imperative that both these agencies ensure that the workers are working in a safe working environment and when they are injured, OSHA could hold both employers and staffing agencies responsible for any negligence and safety violations.

OSHA is trying to boost up enforcement of laws relating to temporary workers, especially after its attention was brought to an accident that occurred at a plant that supplies the makers of ice cream and fruit juice drinks. A temporary worker died at the plant last year in an accident that could have been avoided if a safety device in the machine had not been removed just 13 days before the accident. According to an independent investigation, the temporary worker climbed inside a hopper in the sugar plant to remove sugar clumps when he was buried alive in sugar.

According to some reports, the safety device was removed because it was slowing down production and without it, workers had far fewer clogs to break down throughout their shift. However, the plant's negligence cost them a worker's life. OSHA fined the sugar plant more than $25,000, but later lessened the fine after the safety device was replaced.

An injured worker or the family members of a worker who has succumbed to his or her injuries may be able to file a workers' compensation claim against the negligent employer if it fails to provide a safe working environment. This is a right that workers should be able to utilize without fear of retaliation. Highlighting the potential hazards can ensure future accidents do not happen.

Source: Newser, "Worker buried alive after sugar plant pulls safety device," Rob Quinn, July 8, 2014

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