Many trends in the current labor market offer even greater obstacles to the safety and health of workers. This includes the increased presence of employees of multiple employers at the same worksite, the persistent misclassification of wage employees as independent contractors and the prevalent use of temporary employees.
Dangerous Employment Trends Put Workers at Risk
If workers at the same site are employed by a number of different employers who don’t join forces to ensure their safety, everyone may face an increased risk of injury. This trend has been prevalent in the construction industry for years, but is rapidly spreading to other sectors. Workers are frequently not actually employed by the company who owns or controls the workplace. Instead they are employed by a contractor, subcontractor or a staffing agency.
Misclassifying employees as independent contractors also increases their risk of injury. This practice is illegal, so it is impossible to know how many workers fall into this category, but it is thought to be substantial. When employers misclassify workers as independent contractors, they don’t have to worry about the OSHA requirement to provide a safe workplace and they avoid paying workers’ compensation insurance premiums. When injuries occur, the workers, their families and taxpayers are left to cover the costs.
The rise in the amount of temporary workers creates a safety hazard, because these people are typically only at the worksite for a short period of time. Consequently, they’re often not given proper safety training and are unlikely to be acquainted with specific hazards at the worksite. These professionals are usually assigned to new and unfamiliar workplaces multiple times per year, which may cause a greater threat to their safety.
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