A 50-year old temporary worker who died at a Fairless Hills sugar plant in February 2013 was recently the subject of a broadcast on a popular American Spanish language broadcast television network by the name of Univisión. The worker reportedly died after he was buried alive in a sugar hopper while trying to unclog it.
One of the interesting parts about the workplace accident is that the worker involved in the accident was a temporary worker. Apparently the company makes heavy use of temporary workers—sources say that even the warehouse manager was a temp with special authority. That manager, it turns out, told officials from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration that he had complained to higher management about the risk of being buried while unclogging the sugar hopper.
This did eventually result in a safety screen being placed to prevent the hopper from clogging. Unfortunately, the manager made the mistake of removing the screen because it was slowing down production. It was 13 days later that the accident happened.
Temp workers, of course, have become more common in recent years, partly because it allows companies to obtain help without making the financial commitments required for employees. This hasn’t necessarily been a positive experience for many workers, though, since temp workers are more likely to be injured and go without the compensation they need.
Temp workers who are injured at work need to understand their rights to compensation, and it can certainly help to work with an experienced attorney to ensure their rights are protected.
Source: Philly.com, “Bucks sugar plan removed safety device 13 days before temp worker’s death,” Michael Grabell, July 7, 2014.