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Temporary workers and safe job sites

October 1st, 2014 / By: / Safety & Codes

Staffing agencies and host employers are jointly responsible
for maintaining safe work environments for temporary workers.

In response to a series of reports of temporary workers suffering fatal injuries during the first days on a job, the Office of Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) launched an initiative in 2013 to protect temporary workers through enforcement, outreach and training.

Temporary workers get placed in a variety of jobs, including the most hazardous jobs, and are more vulnerable to workplace hazards and retaliation than workers in traditional employment relationships. In addition, temporary workers are often not given adequate safety and health training or explanations of their duties by either the temporary staffing agency or the host employer.

While specific situations vary, OSHA considers staffing agencies and host employers jointly responsible for maintaining a safe work environment for temporary workers. This includes ensuring that OSHA’s training, hazard communication and recordkeeping requirements are fulfilled. OSHA could hold both the host and staffing employers responsible for conditions that violate
OSHA requirements.

Communication

Employers should consider the hazards they are in a position to prevent and correct, and in a position to comply with OSHA standards. For example, staffing agencies might provide general safety and health training, and host employers provide specific training tailored to the particular workplace equipment and hazards. The key is communication between the agency and the host to ensure that the necessary protections are provided.

  • Staffing agencies must ensure that they are sending workers to a safe workplace. While they need not become experts on specific workplace hazards, they should determine what conditions exist at the client (host) agencies, what hazards may be encountered and how best to ensure protection for the temporary workers.
  • The staffing agency has the duty to inquire and verify that the host has fulfilled its responsibilities for a safe workplace.
  • Host employers must treat temporary workers like any other worker in terms of training and safety and health protections.
  • The staffing agency and the host employer should set out in their contract their respective responsibilities for compliance with applicable OSHA standards.

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