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Temporary Employees: Who is Liable for Their Injuries?

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 more than 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. According to 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 Maryland 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.