A disturbing workplace accident that occurred in the Chicago area was highlighted in a recent report by the Center for Progressive Reform. In general, the report recommends that OSHA increase efforts to protect temporary or contingent employees who are unduly used for dangerous or undesirable jobs. Companies often hire these workers to avoid having to pay workers’ compensation or insurance costs.
In the Chicago-area case, a man employed by a temporary staffing company was working in a Raani Corporation plant in Bedford Park. The man was in the process of cleaning a chemical tank when an accident occurred and he was covered with a mixture of citric acid and water with a temperature of 185 degrees. Eighty percent of his bodied was burned, and the company didn’t even call 911.
It took 98 minutes before he was admitted to a hospital, and three weeks later, he was dead. OSHA investigated the incident and recommended pursuing criminal charges against Raani Corporation.
Contingent workers in the hotel, warehouse, farming and construction industries are especially vulnerable to this kind of mistreatment. These industries can’t outsource jobs and often hire temporary workers to cut costs.
It has also been documented that temporary employees suffer workplace injuries more often than other workers. In many cases, companies fail to provide proper safety training to these employees, even though they are given some of the most hazardous jobs.
The recent report recommends that OSHA revise the rules of its arguably unsuccessful Voluntary Protection Program, as well as carry out “enforcement ‘sweeps'” in industries that rely heavily on contingent workers. It remains to be seen how OSHA will react.
Full-time and temporary employees alike need to be aware of their right to compensation after being injured on the job.
Source: The Center for Public Integrity, “Report suggests OSHA safeguard contingent workers,” Chris Hamby, Jan. 11, 2013
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Chicago-area worker’s death highlighted in recent report