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Temporary workers' safety at risk

Temporary workers in Connecticut may be exceptionally vulnerable to workplace safety violations and unsafe practices. Across the country, an increasing number of workers are considered contractors or temps rather than full-time or even part-time employees. This change in how labor is done often makes it easier for companies to dismiss workers and avoid obligations to provide benefits or conduct collective bargaining. Temporary and contract workers may be treated differently than other employees, something that is to some degree upheld in terms of pay and benefits.

However, temporary workers have the right to a safe workplace that follows applicable safety standards. When it comes to safety on the job, temps are supposed to be treated just like everybody else. However, when safety violations occur, temp workers may lack protections against retaliation and the fear that they will be penalized for speaking up about the danger. The prominence of temp workers on the job overall is indicated in workplace fatality statistics; in 2016, 856 of the 5,190 workers killed on the job were contract employees, making up 16.5 percent of the total.

Since 2012, temporary worker deaths in workplace accidents have held steady at over 15.4 percent of all occupational fatalities. Some experts warn that employers may give temp workers more repetitive or dangerous tasks in order to shift their risk for workers' compensation payouts away from their permanent workforce. These contracted workers may not receive the full training, orientation or necessary safety equipment. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has emphasized the importance of workplace protections for temps.

When temporary workers are hurt on the job, they may be unsure of their legal rights or the obligations of the company. Injured workers can consult with workers' compensation attorneys about their options to pursue compensation for their losses.

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