Safety and the Temporary Worker

Temporary employment takes a wide variety of forms: term, contract, seasonal, casual, and placement through a staffing company. It is common in construction, resource industries such as fishing and agriculture, public administration, personal services and community services. Canadians of all ages, from teenagers to seniors, take temporary jobs — some by preference, and others because they cannot find permanent positions.

Temps tend to suffer more injuries than permanent employees, and those injuries tend to be more serious. Both the employer and the employee need to be on their guard for safety in temporary work situations.

By law, Canadian employers must ensure their workplace is safe, train employees with respect to any potential hazards, supply the necessary personal protective equipment and make sure workers know how to use it. These responsibilities apply to all workers, whether permanent or temporary.

Regardless of a worker’s qualifications, employers must never leave a new temp to work unsupervised before ensuring he or she can safely perform the required tasks. Job orientation and safety training are extremely important for temporary workers. Yet surveys conducted by Safe Workplace Associations in Ontario show that many new workers report that they did not receive any such training.

In certain industries such as agriculture, logging and forestry, and construction, seasonal workers predominate. The rates of injury in those sectors are relatively high, due in large part to the nature of the work. With inexperienced seasonal workers, the risks increase. Again, both the employer and the worker must be aware of all hazards. Proper training, equipment and other safety measures are essential.