Temporary workers

Temp workers file lost-time claims twice as often: study

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Olympia, WA – Temporary workers file lost-workday claims about twice as often as permanent workers, according to a recent study from the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries.

Researchers from that department’s Safety and Health Assessment and Research for Prevention program, looking at workers’ compensation claims data in Washington state from 2011 to 2015, found that temp workers filed 2.98 lost-workday claims per 100 full-time equivalent employees, compared with 1.48 for permanent employees - when adjusted for the differences in temp and permanent worker distribution across industries.

Agricultural services had the highest disparity among industries, with 12.39 lost-workday claims per 100 FTE for temp workers compared with 2.36 for permanent ones.

Researchers completed follow-up interviews with 254 temp worker claimants and 368 permanent worker claimants. Among temp claimants, nearly 40 percent said they did not receive safety training from their temp agency, and 48 percent said they were trained only at the beginning of employment. For permanent claimants, those percentages were approximately 25 and 20, respectively.

Temp claimants also reported less screening for applicable work experience and less control over work schedules.

“This study adds to the evidence that policies are needed to improve screening and training of temporary workers, discourage job-switching, improve workers’ hazard awareness and protect workers’ right to refuse unsafe conditions,” researchers said in an overview of their findings. “The responsibilities of agencies and host employers for ensuring the safety of their temporary workers need clarification.”

The study was published Sept. 4 in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine.

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