Theme of Temporary Worker Safety Continues in Day 2 Morning Session
Michael Grabell discussed his work in a speech titled, "Temp Land: Working in the New Economy."
SALT LAKE CITY -- In a morning session on day 2, the theme of temporary worker safety continued. In discussing temporary workers, ProPublica's Michael Grabell highlighted the questionable practices in place by temp agencies in America, and what that can lead to.
Grabell was the guest speaker for the 15th Annual Upton Sinclaire Lecture for Outstanding E/OHS Investigative Reporting.
In his lecture, Grabell started out by discussing blue collar migrant workers and how their lives are not that different than the lives of migrant workers in the 60s. Jobs like packing chocolates for Valentine's Day and assembling grills for Memorial Day represent the kind of jobs that are primed for temporary workers.
In order to fill these jobs, temp agencies face pressure from retailers to hit certain production numbers. This pressure creates an environment in which the temporary workers struggle to find work in poor conditions such as packing 17 people in a minivan in order to get to a job site.
These workers are part of the 2.9 million who are considered temporary today in the United States. That number is the highest number in U.S. history and is also the highest proportion of workers in U.S. history. 1 in 9 jobs since the recession has been in temporary work.
The reliance on temporary work has created safety problems, as poor training practices often lead to injuries and fatalities for new workers.
Grabell looked abroad to study solutions to the problem of temporary workers struggling to get by; as some countries put limitations on the number of years a worker can work for the same temp agency or removing some dangerous jobs all together from the list of jobs temporary workers can perform.
A video produced by Grabell was shown, where a temporary worker was killed on the first day of his job due to improper training. The video reached more than 1 million views on the site Worldstarhiphop.com.