Temporary workers in Minnesota are at a much higher risk for injury than permanent workers, according to a study of more than 3.5 million injury claims.
The multi-state study conducted by ProPublica sought to better understand how temporary worker injuries compared to those of permanent workers in respect to incident type, rate and severity. The study, which included injury claims from Minnesota, California, Florida, Massachusetts and Oregon, uncovered:
- Temp workers were significantly more likely to suffer a “caught in” or “struck by” injury.
- Temp workers in Minnesota were 72 percent more likely to be injured on the job than their full-time, permanent counterparts.
- Permanent workers in California were half as likely to suffer heat exhaustion than temporary workers.
- Temporary workers in Minnesota were more than three times as likely to be injured by chemicals than permanent workers.
With data like this, it’s no surprise that we regularly hear tragic stories like to one of Lawrence Daquan “Day” Davis, a 21-year-old temporary worker who was killed on the first day of his job when he was accidently crushed by a pallet loader. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration later fined Davis’ company $192,000 for failing to properly train its temporary workers and advise them on proper safety techniques.
Three Main Reasons
The above study and the story about Davis are consistent with what we see in our practice when it comes to temporary worker injuries. In these cases, we usually see three independent factors that amount to the so-called “perfect storm” of temp worker injury. They are:
- Lack of Training – Because of lack of training and the physical nature of temporary work, people in these environments tend to get injured more than their permanent-status counterparts.
- Economy – The “jobless” economic recovery we’re going through means that more and more people are accepting temporary or part-time work just to get their foot in the door. With more individuals accepting temp positions, it stands to reason that temporary worker injury rates will rise.
- Reporting Issues – Finally, work injuries suffered by workers in a temporary role often go unreported because of ignorance of the law, fear or losing out on work, or blame shifting by the temp agency or the employer.
The end result is a large population of workers who will be unable to rejoin the workforce and whose healthcare will have to be paid for by the taxpayers.
On-the-job injuries happen in a variety of different ways, but some are more common than others. Below, we examined the ten most common injuries that lead to a workers’ compensation claim.
- Assaults and Violent Acts – This may be more common among police officers in law enforcement, but it can also happen in an office setting. Pranks of office politics can lead to pushing and shoving.
- Repetitive motion – Ben Heimerl, a workers’ compensation attorney, said his firm has seen numerous “repetitive activity” injuries. People tasked with constant bending of movements are prone to repetitive motion injuries.
- Machinery Accidents – Accidents involving heavy machinery are common among industrial workers and farmers. Construction workers are also tasked with dealing with heavy equipment on a daily basis, which exposes them to a greater potential for injury.
- Highway Accidents – Although the coming-and-going rule usually absolves a company of liability if a person driving to or from work, employees in the transportation injury suffer traffic accident every day. Truck and delivery drivers make up a high portion of these work comp claims.
- Hitting an Object – This type of injury occurs across all sorts of industries. These claims occur when a person accidently runs into a hard surface, like a wall, door, table or chair.
- Object Strikes Person – In these cases, a moving object strikes a person. This most commonly occurs when a person drops an object from a higher level and it strikes a co-worker. These injuries are common in outdoor industries, like construction, roofing, or painting.
- Bodily Reaction – Bodily reactions injuries are similar to slips and trips, but the person doesn’t fall to the ground during a bodily reaction accident. These usually involve a person hurting their back or knees when they catch themselves after they trip or slip.
- Falls to a lower level – Falls from a high height oftentimes result in some of the most devastating injuries. These injuries occur when a person falls down a staircase, off a ladder, or from a roof. Falls from great heights tend to involved broken bones.
- Slips, Trips and Same-Level Falls – Falls from slipping on a wet floor are one of the most common injuries that result in a workers’ compensation claim. These types of injuries are especially prevalent during the winter months when co-workers drag snow into the building on the bottom of their shoes.
- Overexertion – Overexertion leads to more on-the-job injuries than any other ailment, mainly because it has a rather broad definition. Injuries that occur while pulling, pushing, lifting, moving, carrying or throwing are all classified as overexertion injuries. These types of injuries are common across all industries.
Injuries come in all shapes and sizes. It’s not just the construction workers that get injured. The nursing field, assembly line workers, and individuals in the transportation industry all suffer workplace injuries. We see many injuries caused by job stresses such as repetitive activity, heavy lifting, bending, kneeling, stooping, and crouching. If your injury was caused by your work activities in any way, it probably falls under workers compensation.
If you are one of the unfortunate individuals that suffer an injury at work, the following are some good reminders:
- Report your work injury immediately. If you suffer a work injury, even if you think it is minor, make sure you protect your statutory rights and report your injury. Generally, employees should report their injury to a supervisor within 14 days of the injury. Don’t be afraid to report your injury. It is against the law for employers to retaliate against workers who seek workers’ compensation benefits. Once you report your work injury, the employer has the responsibility for initiating a workers’ compensation claim.
- Seek appropriate medical treatment. Trust yourself and your body. If you feel like you need medical treatment, you should seek medical treatment. Sometimes, being “Minnesota-strong” at the expense of necessary medical consultation or treatment can end up hurting you in the long run, so if you need medical attention, be sure to seek it.
- Know if your workers’ compensation claim is accepted or denied. There are usually two ways employees are informed whether or not their claim is accepted or denied:
- You should receive a Notice of Insurer’s Primary Liability Determination (NOPLD) from your employer’s workers’ compensation insurer. This is a standard form and will have a box checked on it that indicates whether the claim is accepted or denied.
- If you seek medical treatment and the workers’ compensation insurer is denying the claim, your medical provider may inform you that the insurer is not paying. This may (though not necessarily) be an indication that the claim is denied.
- Know when to contact an attorney. It is not always necessary to have an attorney if you suffer a work injury and receive workers’ compensation benefits. Many work injuries are accepted and treatment and other benefits are paid without any problems. However, you should consider contacting an attorney if:
- Your claim is denied
- You think your claim is denied
- You are required/asked to attend an Independent Medical Examination (IME)
- You think you are not getting all the benefits to which you are entitled
Hopefully, you never suffer an injury at work. However, please be aware that you have rights as an injured worker, and be sure to protect those rights.