On February 26, 2013, My Fox 8 published an article about a North Carolina business saving approximately $270,000 by not having full time employees. According to the article, the situation is part of the “boom in temporary work” which many employers use as a cost-saving measure.
Our Greensboro workers’ compensation attorneys know that temporary workers may be covered by workers’ compensation through the temp agency that they are technically employed by. However, when an employer hires temporary workers, that employer can also become liable for workplace injuries under certain circumstances. Further, when a company hires temporary workers, the chances of a workplace injury may be higher as a result of lack of experience and other related issues.
Temporary Workers at Risk for Work Injuries
There is a great deal of concern among some experts about the rights of temporary workers and about whether they are in greater danger of being harmed at work. On March 27, 2013, for example, an article on Salon addressed the serious injuries suffered by a temp worker who had been scalded with a 185-degree solution of water and citric acid.
The temp worker was severely burned by the solution when he was cleaning a 500-gallon chemical tank. The hatch on the tank was opened and the solution erupted, covering the worker. According to federal investigators, the bosses in the factory refused to contact an ambulance and instead a co-worker drove him to a medical care clinic. Only after he visited the clinic was he taken to a hospital.
The man died three weeks later due to scalding and chemical burns. Federal investigators reviewed the death and conditions inside of the factory and discovered that the conditions and safety breakdowns were so bad that a criminal investigation was warranted.
Salon indicates that the plight of this worker and his resulting death is not unusual and that there are 2.5 million temp workers in the U.S. who often work in the least desirable conditions, who are often injured at work and whose injuries are often unreported.
This became a higher profile case because of the death and because of the egregious behavior of all involved. However, any temporary worker may be at risk because he is less sure of his rights; because the safety rules and the conditions where he works might be lax; and because employers and co-workers might feel less responsibility to prevent injury than they would if there was a permanent employment relationship. Many of these injuries happen all the time and no one ever hears of them.
In this case, the family of the man who was burned and killed has filed a workers’ compensation claim against the temporary agency that employed the man and a wrongful death claim against the employer.
The dual claims illustrate the potential risks to employers in hiring temporary workers. While workers’ compensation normally shields an employer from civil liability and limits a worker to a workers’ compensation claim, determining the rights of the worker and the obligations of the employer are more complex outside of the traditional employment relationship.
If you have been injured in a work accident, contact the Carolina injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices today by calling 800-887-1965.