The number of accidents at work occurring during temporary agency work has doubled within 15 years
Last year, approximately 5,000 accidents at work occurred during temporary agency work and in the staff recruitment sectors. The number is approximately 26% higher than in 2020. Compared to other sectors, a significantly larger number of accidents at work occur in the sector in relation to the amount of work done.
Temporary agency work is often used as a buffer in situations and sectors with plenty of variation in the volume of operations. The shutdowns that were implemented rapidly due to the coronavirus pandemic also resulted in the decrease of hours of temporary agency work in 2020, but the activities recovered quickly in 2021. Last year, the number of hours of temporary agency work increased by a bit over 10% compared to the hours of work in 2019 before the coronavirus, and the number of accidents at work increased nearly to the same number as in 2019.
Even though the number of accidents at work also increased by a large amount last year, the frequency of accidents at work in temporary agency work and the staff recruitment sector nevertheless decreased during 2019–2021. The frequency is still considerably higher, approximately 70 accidents at work for every million hours of work, compared to the total frequency of all other sectors, which was a bit under 30 accidents at work for every million hours of work last year.
“Last year, the hours of temporary agency work increased relatively more than the number of accidents at work that occurred in the sector. This was visible in the decreased frequency of accidents in temporary agency work. Nonetheless, the frequency is still high and there is plenty to do in developing the safety of temporary agency work,” says Director Mika Tynkkynen of the Workers’ Compensation Center.
Temporary agency work is done in different kinds of work environments. Approximately 15% of the accidents at work that occurred during temporary agency work took place in production duties, a bit less than 13% in warehouse, loading and unloading duties and 10% in new construction work. 3% of the accidents at work in temporary agency work involved those working in the service and caring industry.
Attention on developing the safety of temporary agency work
The biggest challenges of occupational safety in temporary agency work are related to new and changing work environments and working methods. Instructing temporary agency workers in the safety procedures and work environment of the workplace prevents dangerous situations.
Instruction is especially challenging, when a temporary agency worker who has never worked in the customer company before is ordered to replace an employee who has fallen ill, or if the duties change in the middle of the shift.
“The smooth cooperation of different parties is especially important in managing the safety of temporary agency work. There must be an unambiguous agreement between the companies offering and using temporary agency workers on practices that are important for the health and safety of the worker. Temporary agency workers must never face a situation, where they have to start working in unfamiliar circumstances without sufficient instruction and competence,” says Tynkkynen.
The temporary agency workers’ own activity also matters. Temporary agency workers do not necessarily report the risks they notice at work, dangerous situations or not even always their accidents.
In fact, in the future the companies ordering or providing temporary agency workers must cooperate to find ways to ensure that the agency workers routinely report safety deviations.