People across the state of Massachusetts urgently need jobs, and this is something temporary agencies are taking advantage of. They are paying their workers only in cash in order to not only avoid taxes, but also to avoid paying workers’ compensation premiums. Not only do these temporary agencies not provide any insurance for their workers, but they are also sending temporary workers to perform dangerous and risky jobs without giving them any information about the job or training for it. This exposes workers to safety violations and workplace injuries, and is possibly one of the reasons the state has seen a 10-year high in the number of workplace fatalities.
In 2016, 70 Massachusetts workers passed away as a result of workplace injuries and illnesses, the highest number in the last ten years. The deaths were heavily concentrated in the construction industry, accounting for almost 40 percent of the job-related fatalities. The rate currently sits at two deaths per 100,000 workers, doubling since 2012. According to experts in the field, this increase can be attributed to the increase in subcontractors and temporary workers who haven’t been given safety training and don’t have the requisite experience. They are also more hesitant to speak up about workplace injury accidents when they do take place.
One employer who saw a number of workers die in 2016 faces more than a million dollars in Occupational Safety and Health Administration fines and criminal manslaughter charges, because they allegedly forged their employees signatures on forms that claimed they had received safety training. As per the attorney general, these job-related deaths are mostly avoidable if people respect the dignity of the work and workers who are working hard at their jobs and showing up every day.
Seeing a safety violation in the workplace or getting injured in a workplace accident are serious issues — violations and accidents can be reported. Accident victims may be able to file a workers’ compensation claim to recover compensation for their injuries and illnesses.