Temporary work agencies are a growing phenomenon and an increasingly established part of new flexible labour markets, where the workforces of organizations can be quickly increased or decreased in line with demand for labour. Studies have shown that agency workers are at greater risk for occupational accidents and diseases than permanent workers. However, we know little about the management of injury prevention and return to work within temporary work agency contexts.
In this plenary, IWH Scientist Dr. Ellen MacEachen presents her findings from an IWH study on the organization of health and safety in temporary work agencies. The findings suggest that a core problem to health and safety management is that, as the ‘employer’ of temporary workers, agencies cannot control clients' worksites and have only limited knowledge of them. The three-way worker-agency-client employment relationship poses challenges to the effectiveness of agency injury prevention initiatives.