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  • Temporary Workers At Higher Risk For Workplace Fatalities
    Posted On: May 08, 2016

    By JoAnne Powers, May 9, 2016

    On November 30th, 2012, Rutger’s University nurse Mary Jo Hoyt and her siblings were informed that her brother was in the emergency room due to a workplace accident.  On contacting the hospital, she was told the situation was very grave, and the family should come immediately:

    [Mary Jo Hoyt]: “I knew from those words that, not only had something terribly serious happened, but even that we might not get to the hospital before Jamie died, and in fact that’s exactly what happened.  My brother had been crushed to death by 2500 pounds of computer equipment as he and other temp workers tried to move it.”

    Jamie Hoyt was working as a temporary day laborer at Labor Ready in Hackensack, New Jersey.   A recent annual report on occupational workplace fatalities released by the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health notes that temporary workers are at particularly high risk for workplace deaths.  Over 800 contracted or temp workers died on the job in 2014, one sixth of all workplace fatalities and a seven percent increase from the previous year.  National COSH Acting Executive Director Jessica Martinez:

    [Jessica Martinez]: “Based on reports from workers and safety experts, as well as the result of accident and fatality investigations, we know that contract and temp workers are frequently assigned to the most hazardous jobs on many job sites.”

    Jamie and two other Labor Ready workers were hired to move racks of computer servers out of a Verizon facility in in Pearl River, New York:

    [Mary Jo Hoyt]: “These computer servers were very tall and very heavy, and they’re balanced on pretty tiny wheels, that are really meant to move just very short distances.  The industry best practice is to disassemble this type of equipment and move the pieces individually, but Verizon had wrapped the servers to be moved whole.  They first loaded the servers onto a small truck, then took that out to meet the large truck in the middle of the parking lot, where they attempted to shift the servers from the small truck to the larger truck by pushing the them across the lift gates of the two trucks.  They’re several feet off the ground.  One of the racks started to slip.  They couldn’t control it.  Jamie couldn’t get out of the way fast enough.  The rack fell and crushed him, and it took emergency service workers more than forty minutes to get the equipment off my brother.”

    Hoyt and her family firmly believe that accidents like Jamie’s are not really a fluke:

    [Mary Jo Hoyt]: “This is a pattern, as this report indicates.  The work that Jamie and his colleagues were doing that day was carelessly planned, performed without adequate safety measures, inappropriately supervised…but there’s no accountability in this contracting and subcontracting system.  The monetary benefit of moving equipment on the cheap goes to Verizon, but the risk of injury and death goes to the temp worker, in this case, to my brother."


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