Over the past several years, a disturbing, little-noticed trend has taken hold in industrial America. Major companies from Walmart to Bacardi Rum are turning to temporary workers to fill the dirtiest jobs in factories, warehouses and processing plants, making this work one of the fastest growing segments of the economy since the 2008 recession. As Michael Grabell found in his groundbreaking “Temp Land” series, it is also one of the most dangerous.
Grabell’s stories used gritty street-level reporting and analyzed millions of workers’ comp claims to address a question that had stymied academics and federal officials: Were tales of temp workers killed, crushed, and asphyxiated egregious examples, or signs of a larger change in how dangerous work is handled in America?
The answer, according to Grabell’s groundbreaking analysis: Temps are indeed hired for the most dangerous jobs – and even in comparable occupations, they are hurt at as much as six times the rate of regular employees.
The story was brought home online with:
Grabell’s stories stirred immediate action, prompting changes at temp agencies, a joint initiative by the Illinois and federal labor department that has resulted in three investigations so far, and a bill to protect temp workers that has now passed the Assembly in California. Moreover, OSHA has begun using Grabell’s reporting and the video in training.