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Fatal accident followed removal of sugar hopper safety device

A horrific accident that occurred at a Pennsylvania sugar plant in February 2013 illustrates current problems in some parts of the temporary services industry. A 50-year-old temp working at the CSC Sugar plant in Fairless Hills was smothered while standing inside a sugar hopper breaking up clumps with a shovel. Investigators recently found unsettling information showing that only 13 days prior, a plant manager had ordered the removal of a filter that eliminated clumping in the interest of speeding up processing. The manager later claimed to OSHA that he was unaware of the screen's removal.

The victim in this accident and all of his co-workers including management were temporary workers at the warehouse in Bucks County. Recent privately conducted investigations have shown signs of exploitative behavior towards temps and a significantly increased risk of serious injuries compared to what permanent workers with proper training face.

In response to the elevated hazards that appear to face temp workers, OSHA has initiated efforts to hold temp agencies and the companies with whom they contract jointly accountable for proper training of temps; however, the agency faces an uphill climb in creating change. The director of the Allentown office of OSHA told Univision, the Spanish-language television network, that its scope in enforcement against criminal activity is limited and that it lacks the authority to close businesses.

For relatives of temporary workers who die in workplace accidents, many factors can affect whether or for how much an individual qualifies for survivor's benefits. Someone who files the paperwork with the deceased worker's temp agency on one's own could see later complications relating to the claim. Such troubles might be averted with the aid of an attorney experienced in compiling and submitting effective workers' compensation claims.

Source: Philly, "Bucks sugar plant removed safety device 13 days before temp worker's death ", Michael Grabell, July 07, 2014

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