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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.

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