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Temporary workers need more protections

National COSH was saddened to learn about the death of a temporary worker in North Carolina in an accident at a pita and bagel chip factory. Not only was the death itself a tragedy, but so was the fact that it was probably preventable. Read our letter to the editor submitted to the Winston-Salem Journal:

To the editor,

A temporary worker’s death at the Chipita America plant in Yadkinville (“Worker dies in accident at Yadkinville pita and bagel chips factory,” Oct. 17) is even more tragic because it probably could have been prevented.

 Too often, temporary workers are sent to dangerous jobs with inadequate training on how to protect their safety and health on the job and little information about their employment conditions. Worker injuries are often unreported and millions of dollars in overtime and minimum wages are unpaid.

Last year, Massachusetts passed a law to ensure that the most egregious practices by some of the state’s temporary employment agencies will end. North Carolina should pass similar legislation so that the state’s more than 141,000 temporary workers (as of 2005 data from the Kaiser Family Foundation) are protected from hazards on the job. All workers- regardless of the permanence of their positions- deserve a safe and healthy workplace.

Tom O” Connor

Executive Director

National Council for Occupational Safety and Health

Raleigh, N.C.