Temporary, Contract Workers at Higher Risk for Injuries

Studies in the United States and Europe suggest that contingent workers such as part-time, temporary, or contract workers are at higher risk for occupational injuries and illnesses than workers in traditional employment situations, NIOSH researchers report.

Several possible reasons for the higher risk are suggested in the increasing scientific evidence, and warrant further scientific investigation, the researchers stated. The article, "Contingent Workers and Contingent Health: Risks of a Modern Economy," by Kristin J. Cummings, M.D., M.P.H., and Kathleen Kreiss, M.D., was published in the Jan. 30 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Among the evidence for higher risk among contingent workers, are the following data and reports from the United States, the researchers said:

  • The rate of fatal occupational injuries among self-employed workers is twice the national average for all workers, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • The rate of needlestick injuries among temporary nurses caring for AIDS patients in 11 U.S. hospitals was 1.65 times higher than the rate for staff nurses working in the same units.
  • A 2004 survey of day laborers in the U.S. found that 19 percent of the day laborers reported work-related injuries that required medical attention in the previous year, compared with less than 5 percent of workers in all private industries and about 6 percent of all workers in construction.
  • A preliminary analysis of 2000-2004 data shows that contract coal mine workers with at least 15 years of tenure had a higher prevalence of radiographic evidence for coal workers’ pneumoconiosis (black lung) than non-contract coal mine workers.

"As the use of part-time, temporary, and contract work increases in today’s changing economy, it has become more and more important to understand the implications of the trend for occupational safety and health, and to address factors that may put these workers at unique risk," said NIOSH Director John Howard, M.D. "Studies such as these are important in suggesting evidence-based hypotheses in this complex area, and stimulating next steps in research to address unanswered questions."

While contingent workers are a diverse group, ranging from well-paid independent consultants to low-skilled construction workers, they are more likely to be young, female, or Hispanic, and to have lower incomes and fewer benefits than workers in traditional employment, the NIOSH researchers found.

As a concern that also involves issues of personal health, the unpredictable schedule of some contingent positions may contribute to poor eating and exercise habits -- factors in obesity and diabetes.

Studying a population of workers who are not affiliated with one single employer, a population that is transient and dynamic, poses challenges for researchers, the new study said.

However, it added, identifying potential risk factors and designing interventions for preventing injuries and illness, and promoting good health, are "of paramount importance to the health of the nation."

Download Center

HTML - No Current Item Deck
  • Get the Ultimate Guide to OSHA Recordkeeping

    OSHA’s Form 300A posting deadline is February 1! Are you prepared? To help answer your key recordkeeping questions, IndustrySafe put together this guide with critical compliance information.

  • Steps to Conduct a JSA

    We've put together a comprehensive step-by-step guide to help you perform a job safety analysis (JSA), which includes a pre-built, JSA checklist and template, steps of a JSA, list of potential job hazards, and an overview of hazard control hierarchy.

  • Everything You Need to Know about Incident investigations

    Need some tips for conducting an incident investigation at work after there’s been an occupational injury or illness, or maybe even a near miss? This guide presents a comprehensive overview of methods of performing incident investigations to lead you through your next steps.

  • Free Safety Management Software Demo

    IndustrySafe Safety Management Software helps organizations to improve safety by providing a comprehensive toolset of software modules to help businesses identify trouble spots; reduce claims, lost days, OSHA fines; and more.

  • Industry Safe

OH&S Digital Edition

  • OHS Magazine Digital Edition - November December 2020

    November December 2020

    Featuring:

    • COLD STRESS
      Managing Cold Stress
    • TRAINING: FALL PROTECTION
      Providing Training for Fall Protection
    • PPE: HEARING PROTECTION
      Eight Tips for Hearing Testing Day
    • FACILITY SECURITY
      Incorporating COVID-19 Protections into Safety Programs
    View This Issue