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Another checkbox: Thinking about the safety of temporary workers

A seemingly simple solution to a pervasive problem is proving to be more complex than many safety advocates would wish it to be. We have previously written about the fact that temporary workers are generally at a higher risk for work-related injuries and illnesses than full-time and part-time employees are. One proposed reform that could significantly help federal regulators to both understand the scope of this danger and to act upon it is seemingly wrapped in red tape. Simply adding one checkbox to a certain federal reporting form that tracks injuries suffered by workers could take more than a decade to approve.

Currently, federal regulators are facing a great deal of opposition from the business community when it comes to stronger protections for temporary workers. Temporary workers are less expensive to employ than hourly and salaried employees are. As a result, more and more companies are choosing to employ temporary workers. Adding protections for this workforce would cost some businesses time and money that they are not eager to part with.

If businesses were required to track work-related injuries and illnesses suffered by temporary workers, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and other governmental agencies would be better informed on how these workers are being affected by a lack of certain protections and would be given stronger evidence that these workers should be granted additional protections.

However, an OSHA director recently explained that in addition to industry opposition, “To add a box to an OSHA log is a large regulatory endeavor… It’s very controversial for us to add boxes. No OSHA regulation takes less than a couple of years.”

Source: Epoch Times, “How to Improve Temp Worker Safety,” Michael Grabell, Jan. 2, 2014

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