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.