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Some workers risk higher chance of on-the-job injury

Regular or permanent workers are less likely to suffer injury than temporary or migrant employees in the same industry. The director for the University of Pennsylvania's Transnational Law Center reported that these employees come to the company at a serious disadvantage, which means they run a higher risk of sustaining a workplace injury. They might hesitate to report accidents or poor conditions and may not want to file worker's compensation claims.

In one case that gained national attention, a temporary worker was nearly torn in two at a carpet factory in 2010. He had no safety gear, the machine's safety features were not engaged, and he had not been warned to the dangers of the equipment. In another case, two teens who were employed by a grain silo died at work. Although businesses receive citations for non-compliance with safety regulations, the incidents continue.

The government agency that oversees workplace safety, OSHA, does not have the authority to criminally prosecute offenders. They are limited to citing businesses, fining them and continuing to monitor them. Even then, the business can contest the fines and tickets and reduce them by as much as 50 percent in some cases.

The director emphasized that safety issues apply to employees no matter their work status. She added that if one group is exploited, it will affect all workers, and no matter their status, they all should be treated with dignity.

While migrant or temporary workers may not want to file worker injury claims, they face the same on-the-job dangers that any employee faces. A worker's compensation attorney might be able to encourage them to move forward with the process of lawsuit.

Source: The Raw Story, "Temporary and migrant workers face 'systemic' problem of workplace dangers," David Ferguson, March 28, 2013

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