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Injured at work while under a temp-to-hire contract

For young workers, the opportunity to partner with a staffing agency and receive temporary work is often the ideal way to get professional experience and test out various roles in the work force. Whether working in an office setting or in an industrial or manufacturing setting, young workers can learn more about what they like to do and the type of role they might like to have in their career.

Workers must recognize that there are distinct differences when it comes to workplace safety and injuries while working in temporary employment.

Here's what you need to know:

Both employers and staffing agencies are responsible for protecting you

Employees — regardless of whether they are temporary workers, part-time workers or full-time workers with a benefits package — have a right to a safe work environment. When you work as a temporary worker who was placed with an employer by a staffing agency, both of those entities have a responsibility to protect your rights as an employee. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, you should work with an agency that has adequate communication with the employers they utilize in their placement programs. Each placement should be the result of an agreement between the employer and the staffing agency, in which they identify how they are going to comply with workplace safety standards and guidelines established by OSHA. This is particularly important if the temporary worker is going to be completing physical labor or will be working in a high-risk environment. As a temporary employee, you should verify that these agreements have been made and that both entities recognize the responsibility they have to protect you.

You have rights as a temporary worker

Temporary workers are generally only employed with a particular employer for a short period of time, such as a retail worker who is hired for the holiday season or an administrative employee who is hired to cover a full-time employee's leave of absence. Despite this, you still have rights as a temporary worker in the work force:

  • You have a right to work in a safe environment that is free from obvious hazards. In an office setting, this means that your space should be clean and comfortable. Common spaces need to be maintained to minimize the risk of slip-and-fall accidents, and adequate break time should be provided. In an industrial setting, this means that proper precautions have been taken and guidelines have been complied with so that heavy machinery and other high-risk equipment is working properly at all times.
  • You have a right to receive safety training. Your employer and your staffing agency must provide you with the information and resources you need to do your job correctly and stay safe while working. If safety equipment is required, your employer or the staffing agency should provide it for you.
  • You have a right to report safety issues that you see in the work place. You may contact your direct supervisor, the staffing agency or OSHA.

Both employers and staffing agencies must comply with safety standards

Your health and safety while working is a shared responsibility between the employer you are working for at the time and the staffing agency that placed you. The two entities should work together to identify possible risk hazards in the workplace, and create a plan to prevent injuries from happening on the job and actively work to minimize those risks. This is why communication between the two is absolutely critical. Employers should work with staffing agencies who value workplace safety, and staffing agencies should verify that all work environments in which they are placing temporary workers are adhering to OSHA guidelines and workplace safety standards.

So, what should you do if you are injured while working as a temporary employee? The first thing you need to do is report the incident to your direct supervisor, and immediately get any medical care that is necessary. Be sure that the employer contacts the staffing agency, or that you contact the agency which placed you in the position.

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