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Georgia’s Temporary Workers Deserve Greater Protections

On his first day at his first job, the Fort Stewart native was proud to be dressed in his safety gear at a bottling plant in Jacksonville, Fla.
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He even sent a cell phone photograph that he snapped in uniform to his girlfriend, and promised to call her on his break. But he would never get the chance. Ninety minutes later, he was crushed by a palletizer machine that came crashing down with about 2,000 pounds of force.

Our Atlanta work injury lawyers know that like so many other firms, this one has built temporary workers into the fabric of its business model – to the detriment of worker safety. Some of those temps work for two, three years or more and are never hired full-time.

In fact, a recent report indicates that the U.S. ranks among the worst in the developed world for protections shielding temporary workers from exploitation and abuse. Temporary workers are often assigned to the most dangerous jobs. In several states, they are up to three times more likely than permanent workers to suffer on-the-job amputations.

While injured temporary workers do have the right to seek workers’ compensation from the temp agency that employs them, some of these operations are fly-by-night. Some have been known to simply vanish without paying workers proper wages.

These leaves workers with fewer options to pursue claims for injury compensation. One of the ways that a work injury law firm can help is by identifying possible third-parties – the manufacturer itself, contractors, subcontractors, building owners, etc. – which might also be deemed liable for breach of duty by virtue of the fact that they had a substantial stake or direction in the worker’s employment.

While the temping industry has grown exponentially since the recession began in 2007, the U.S. laws protecting these workers has lagged significantly. Other countries have adopted measures that guarantee wages, ensure safe working conditions through the restriction of temp use for hazardous work and limit the length of the temping assignment in a way that would encourage companies to hire more of the workers full-time. They have even passed laws granting the government permission to shut down temping agencies that put its workers in harms’ way. Not so in the U.S., which received a rank of 41 out of 43 in terms of temp protections, according to the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development.

A 2010 study by researchers at Washington State revealed that temp workers in the fields of manufacturing and construction filed twice the number of injury claims as permanent workers in those same fields. What’s more, there is evidence to suggest that these figures represent only a fraction of injury cases, as many temp workers feel bullied into keeping their injuries and illnesses quiet, for fear of being black-listed and losing whatever minimal job security they could claim.

The temp industry is not adequately regulated. Particularly in the blue collar industries, workers are sent to do the most dangerous jobs with little training for the least amount of pay. On top of that, manufacturing firms don’t have to be bothered with things like health insurance or workers’ compensation benefits.

For workers, the upside is far more limited.

For information on Atlanta work injury compensation, contact J. Franklin Burns, P.C., at 1-404-303-7770.

Additional Resources:
U.S. Lags Behind World in Temp Worker Protections, Feb. 24, 2014, By Michael Grabell, ProPublica
More Blog Entries:
Atlanta Workers’ Compensation Claims: Injuries Must Arise From Employment, Jan. 14, 2014, Atlanta Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog