Last year, Toronto Star reporter Sara Mojtehedzadeh went undercover at a Toronto factory where a temp agency worker died to find out how the rise of precarious work is impacting worker safety and reshaping our economy. On Monday afternoon at AIHce, she discussed her findings working inside one of the continent's biggest industrial bakeries that relies heavily on temps — as well as her experience reporting other occupational health and safety issues.

Mojtehedzadeh wrote an article last year called “Undercover in Temp Nation” after a temporary worker died on the job at Fiera Foods in Toronto, an industrial bakery. She went undercover in the same factory for one month, exposing dangerous work environments where temp agency workers are abused or injured on the job. Her work brought to light how the factory did not comply with many health and safety regulations at the expense of their temp employees and how badly those workers were treated. 

She said the use of temp agencies cuts costs and limits employee labor rights and companies’ liability for accidents on the job.

Her investigation, she said, was sparked by the release of U.S. data that showed people who are hired through temp agencies are significantly more likely to get injured on the job than permanently hired workers: “I wanted to see if the same thing was happening here in Ontario.”

Regarding her training after getting the job at Fiera: “I received about five minutes of safety training. I was told to not put my hands near the machines and if I didn’t feel safe or comfortable doing something, then they said to go home and wait for the temp agency to call me again.”

Mojtehedzadeh said the workplace felt dangerous. There were ovens operating 24/7, she said, yet workers were not informed of any fire-exit locations or where to find fire extinguishers.

Fiera Foods eventually pleaded guilty to charges for the worker’s death, which was after the article was published.

Read her original article here: