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OSHA aims to better protect temporary workers

Many temporary workers in Maryland are thrown into their duties without proper training or equipment. These workers are injured at much high rates, and these workers often fear reporting their injuries. This is a dangerous combination that jeopardizes the health and wellbeing of these workers.

While employees that are injured on the job in Maryland can seek workers' compensation benefits to cover medical expenses and lost wages under their employer's insurance, the situation is more complicated for independent contract workers. The current Occupation Safety and Health Administration Chief is putting this issue in the spotlight after several instances of preventable injuries and deaths to temporary workers this year.

The current OSHA Chief says in reflection of a temporary worker crushed to death on his first day at a bottling facilitating this year, "Our investigation found [the laborer] and his coworkers were never trained in the simple lockout/tagout procedures that would have save his life."

OSHA is looking to implement more policies to protect temporary workers across the country, including here in Maryland. When safety inspections are conducted at a workplace, inspectors will now specifically check to ensure that temporary workers receive safety training "in a language and vocabulary they understand," as many temporary workers are not native English speakers.

Further, inspectors will look to see if these workers in particular are being exposed to violations of safety conditions. Better record keeping of the staffing agencies providing workers will also be underway, in addition to examination of the level of supervision that temporary workers receive daily by either the staffing agency or host employer. Hopefully all of these efforts will lead to the better protection of more working individuals across Maryland.

Source: Bloomberg BNA, "New OSHA Enforcement Initiative Focuses On Temporary Staffing Agency Workers," Bruce Rolfsen, May 2, 2013

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