© Copyright ClearPath Benefits

Risky Business

Originally posted by United Benefit Advisors (UBA)

Of all the temporary jobs out there, none probably carries more risk than being the President of the United States. However, for most people, having a temporary job requires a fast learning curve, especially when it comes to safety. Sure, an office job sounds fairly safe, but what about general contractors, factory workers, and construction workers? These positions are far more hazardous and both the employee and employer need to step up their game to ensure the task can be completed with minimal risk.

An article in Human Resource Executive Online says that reducing injuries among temporary workers continues to be a major priority for OSHA, which recently boosted its communications efforts around the agency’s Temporary Worker Initiative.

According to a new report from CareerBuilder andEconomic Modeling Specialists, a record three million Americans are employed as temporary workers. This is up by 28% between 2010 and 2013. If a temporary employee works in California, Florida, Massachusetts, Oregon, or Minnesota, he or she has a much higher risk of getting injured on the job than a permanent employee based on a recent analysis of workers’ compensation data by the nonprofit news organization ProPublica. That same analysis concluded that temps in Minnesota have the highest risk potential, with 72% having a greater chance of being injured on the job than permanent workers.

While some people might consider their dream job one that’s “to die for,” nobody really wants a job so badly that they’re willing to sacrifice their life. This is why HR needs to work closely with their company’s safety department. The two, in fact, should be inseparable for ensuring an employee’s well-being.

As is often the case, HR departments may mistakenly assume that temporary employees either already have sufficient safety training from a previous job, or that they received safety training from a staffing firm. This couldn’t be further from the truth as most safety training is learned on a specific jobsite and not in a classroom. Once temps get to a brand new job location, they are ill-prepared for the dangers they may face. For example, a manager in a factory needs additional help with a particular task. That manager takes a temporary worker who’s been assigned to a low-hazard duty and places him or her into a potentially catastrophic situation with dangerous equipment, harmful chemicals, or an environment that requires protective gear, which the employee doesn’t have.

Temporary workers are a necessary part of doing business and they can be just as qualified as their permanent counterparts. While it may be tempting to restrict what they should be allowed to do, all companies would be better served if they observed best safety practices in the workplace. HR departments should ensure that all temps have the necessary technical and safety training for any potential task they may undertake while working at that organization. If necessary, they should be included in routine safety classes and daily briefings and company-supplied protective equipment should always be provided regardless of whether the temporary employee brings their own.