Safety advocates press for protections for temp workers
A delegation of workplace safety activists paid a surprise “Trick or Treat” visit to a south side office of Elite Staffing, Inc., one of Chicago’s leading temporary staffing agencies.
The delegation, led by the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH) and the Chicago Workers’ Collaborative, delivered a letter addressed to Gary Cole, president of Elite Staffing.
Advocates are calling on the agency to provide appropriate safety training, provide Safety Data Sheets on hazardous chemicals, and recognize worker health and safety committees. The letter also states that Elite Staffing should pledge not to retaliate against any workers who raise safety, compensation, discrimination and other workplace issues.
“Workers are telling us about exposures to unknown toxic chemicals, machine hazards and other safety concerns,” said Leone José Bicchieri, executive director of the Chicago Workers’ Collaborative. “The time to take action is now, to prevent illnesses and injuries before they occur.”
Elite Staffing, Inc. provides temporary labor to Pactiv, a manufacturer of cups and other supplies for major national restaurant chains. Pactiv’s Bedford Park, IL, facility – with many workers on assignment from Elite Staffing – is currently under investigation by OSHA for alleged violations of federal safety laws.
“Temporary work can be extremely hazardous, especially when workers are assigned to unfamiliar tasks on equipment they may never have seen before,” said Jessica Martinez, acting executive director of National COSH.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 800 contract workers died on the job in 2014, representing 17 percent of all workplace fatalities.
According to the American Staffing Association (ASA), the following BLS citation is not correct: “According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 800 contract workers died on the job in 2014, representing 17 percent of all workplace fatalities.” The BLS data are for contract workers from the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries data. The citation should only state “contract” and not “temp” workers. Fatal injuries for the Temporary Help Services NAICS only totaled 37 (0.8% of all fatal injuries) based on the 2013 preliminary BLS data. The contract workers referenced by BLS span numerous industries, and appear to mainly comprise independent contractors, according to ASA..