Today there are government organizations, federal laws, and state rules
and regulations that seek to protect workers from any sort of work-related
injuries or work-related illnesses. As a result of increased protection
to workers (and sanctions on bad acting companies), society has noted
a significant decrease in injuries to workers since the 1970s (which saw
14,000 workers killed on the job annually, about 38 workers per day as opposed to 2015, when there was only an average
of 12 workers killed per day.)
Even with the required standards and federal government’s attention
to the problems of injuries to workers, our ever-evolving workforce has
led to serious questions of how to best protect workers when the presence
of more temporary workers has led to a rise of injuries in the workplace.
Temporary Help Services are Booming
In the last 20 years, the temporary help services industry has boomed,
doubling in size. The proportion of workers that are temporary employees
are in higher skill occupations. There are benefits for companies that
do hire en masse temporary employees such as not being required to pay
workers’ compensation insurance premiums for any employees that
are hired through a third party. The onus lies with the hiring agency
that supplies temporary employees to the companies.
Temporary Employees Most Vulnerable to Workplace Hazards
Though there are financial incentives to hiring temporary workers, they
are also the most vulnerable for getting injured at work and causing injuries
to others like permanent workers that are the responsibility of the company.
Psychology Today, after reviewing data evaluating both permanent and temporary employees
over a five-year period, it found that injury rates were 36-72% higher
for temporary workers than permanent workers.
The reasoning behind why temporary employees are more likely to be injured
at the workplace is for the most obvious reasons: The workplace is a new
environment in which the temporary employee is less likely to know the
landscape and what the potential hazards may be. Additionally, with a
lack of incentive on behalf of companies to insure these temporary assignments,
companies are less likely to provide on-the-job training or education
to instruct new workers on the hazards and dangers of that specific work
environment. Some of these companies may even be less likely to feel the
financial push to make dangerous work environments safer because they
are not concerned about workers’ compensation claims draining their purse.
Who is Liable for Temporary Employees, Generally
For temporary employees, it is up to the hiring agency to support these
employees with workers’ compensation in the event of a work-related
injury. However, studies have shown that temporary employees, because
of the lack of any permanent relationship or significant protections with
the hiring agency, are less likely to file workers’ compensation
claims or report injuries because due to their at-will employment status,
they are afraid of retributive actions by the hiring agency such as not
being hired for future assignments.
Push Toward Joint Liability Between Hiring Agency and Host Company
State and federal laws are moving forward to hold
both hiring agency and host company jointly liable for any injuries that occur toward temporary employees. This is largely
due to a push by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to
ensure that neither the hiring agency nor host company are
skirting their responsibilities; in particular, the host company may not hire temporary employees so that
they are not responsible to make the work environment safe under the standards
set out by OSHA.
Temporary Employee Liability in Maryland
In Maryland, there are very specific laws relating to who is considered
a covered employee. Temporary employees are also known as casual employees
under Maryland law and are not considered covered employees. Additionally, in
section 9-233, if an individual is able to receive some benefit under the federal law
for accidental personal injury or any occupational disease, then that
person is not a covered employee under Maryland’s Workers’
Compensation law. This assumes OSHA and other federal law protections
to govern any accidental personal injury or occupational disease claims.
Charles County, MD Personal Injury Lawyers that Fight for You
If you are a covered employee and were injured on the job, it is important
to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney who can educate
you on your rights in the workplace. Please call the
Law Office of Robert R. Castro at (301) 804-2312 for a confidential consultation.