Journalism in the Public Interest

Podcast: Outsourcing Labor, Injuries to the Growing Temp Industry


Tonya Washington, 36, puts her hand on a plaque at a memorial garden for her son, Day Davis, at the Bacardi bottling plant in Jacksonville, Fla., on Aug. 16, 2013, one year after Davis, a temp worker, died on his first day on the job. (Todd Anderson for ProPublica)

The temp industry is one of the fastest growing job sectors in the U.S. – currently employing a record 2.8 million workers – but according to a ProPublica analysis of workers’ compensation claims, it’s also one of the more dangerous, with temps facing a significantly greater risk of getting injured on the job than permanent employees.

ProPublica’s Michael Grabell details in his latest report – Temporary Work, Lasting Harm – how the workers’ comp system was designed to encourage safety through economic pressure by forcing companies with higher injury rates to pay higher insurance premiums. However, hiring temp workers has insulated companies from taking responsibility – “subverting one of the strongest incentives for companies to protect workers,” he writes.

Grabell joins ProPublica editor-in-chief Steve Engelberg on the podcast this week to discuss why temp workers are more prone to injuries on the job; how OSHA has documented temp workers being treated as “second-class citizens” and “peons”; and what could be done about this growing problem.

You can listen to this podcast on iTunes and Stitcher. For more on this investigation, visit our series page: Temp Land: Working in the New Economy.

Dina J. Padilla

Jan. 24, 2014, 6:51 p.m.

Employees mean nothing for employers but just wear them out for cheaper pay. When outsourcing went to India, Indian workers started earning 300.00 per month (compared to 30.00 a month) doing keyboard work was like hitting the jackpot until their workers started developing RSI’s (Repetitive Stress Related Injuries) and Carpel Tunnel, the same as U.S.Workers did prior.
Today, these injured workers in the United States have received little to nothing from employers insurance companies for their injuries.
Instead, these injured workers ended up on Social Security & Medicare (other public funded programs that they all paid into) at a huge discount of what was owed to them by the employer who does not pay on those claims. Now temp workers will receive even less. This is the tea bagger’s anti-government idea of saving money at any cost (lives & limbs) erst the while receiving tax breaks by not promoting job growth or taking the jobs overseas and now using temp workers.
Not bad when employers thinks that increasing profit IS all on the broken body parts of workers!

I feel as though I live in a Third World country. Having visited many companies that utilized these kinds of employees, I consider it a shame that there is no sense of community in the workplace anymore and the dynamic certainly doesn’t enhance the physical, emotional, or social security of the employees. Any other perspective is what you might call a “Koch-and-Bull story.”

howard doughty

Jan. 25, 2014, 11:55 a.m.

In his autobiographical collage, “Fates Worse than Death,” the late Kurt Vonnegut said that the United States was becoming a third-world country, but that Americans shouldn’t be overly saddened, since this was becoming a third-world planet!

Yet, Americans (and you are not alone) remain (dis)content with political systems that represent only the hard and soft sides of the coinage of social control. Republicans do evil things with glee. Democrats do evil things with regret (formerly “a heavy heart”). And voters choose which version of the same reality they are willing to endorse or, increasingly, to ignore.

Vonnegut also wrote, following the Republican convention in Miami in 1972, that there are two imaginary parties in the USA, the Republicans and the Democrats. There are also two real parties in the USA, the Winners and the Losers. So, since both imaginary parties are controlled by the Winners, in any election this much is certain: the Winners will win.

(NSA has my real name, unfortunately.)

While this is a great article, and I don’t mean to denigrate it in any fashion, all one really need to understand is that back in 2003, the then-largest temp agency in America, Manpower, closed 1,000 offices throughout the country, and opened up 900 some offices in China.

‘Nuff said…..

Dina J. Padilla

Jan. 26, 2014, 6:05 p.m.

An as he Kurt Vonnegut stated, that there 51 states and us voters/workers ARE the losers THAT are in that 51state, the last state, the state of denial!

Thanks for the article, very informative

Dina J. Padilla

March 18, 2014, 1:46 p.m.

AND someone tell me who owns manpower. It was around for decades and the last workers to get any labor “benefit” were Hispanics legal or otherwise, in this country. Now Manpower has moved into other countries to continue the spiral of cheap labor. Manpower is nothing but a for profit for corporate labor/slave owners for hundreds of years, all for cheap labor recipients. And guess what type of medical care slave owners gave to their salves, HMO’s type care, the least of any real medical care. Yep, HMO care was the medical care of the past days and still are. HMO’s who claim non profit just get to glean billions of federal & state dollars to & from corporate owners with impunity, all just to mete out any real care for their employees and the insurance industry is laughing all the way to their offshore bank accounts & then off to Swiss bank accounts just like in WW11 which IS why Switzerland remained a neutral country.

Dina J. Padilla

March 18, 2014, 1:51 p.m.

BTW, Kaiser Permanente IS a HMO, WHO’s patients are primarily the elderly, the poor,  California state workers (mostly women), minorities and the most vulnerable, minority children. This is what happens when our legislators callously allow HMO’s to do the dirty work, by not providing decent care to all with impunity and no accountability. Then there is the soft care euthanasia. So where are the religious leaders on this subject while the churches endorse & indoctrinate minorities, the cheapest labor we have to date?

Very informative content !
Going to read more of your articles….

Thank you for the article, very informative


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