Safetip #74: Protect the Safety & Health of Temporary Workers

April 12, 2017
By Jean-Grégoire Manoukian

This week’s Safetip is about temporary workers and six steps that host employers should take to protect the safety and health of temporary workers.

Joint Responsibility to Protect Temporary Workers

In the U.S., even though the extent of responsibility under the law of staffing agencies and host employers depends on the specific facts of each case, they are jointly responsible for maintaining a safe work environment for temporary workers. For example, OSHA’s training, hazard communication and recordkeeping requirements must still be fulfilled, even if temporary workers are involved. OSHA could hold both the temporary staffing agency and the host employer responsible for violations. Both employers share control over temporary workers, and are jointly responsible for ensuring their safety and health.

Fictional Case Study Shows Shared Responsibility

In order to promote the safety and health of temporary workers, OSHA, American Staffing Association (ASA), and the National Safety Council (NSC) developed a fictional case study that is generally based on citations issued by OSHA in connection with temporary workers’ on-the-job injuries. The case study provides information to allow staffing agencies and host employers to better protect temporary workers and understand who is responsible for recording temporary worker injuries.

The case study says that host employers should treat temporary workers the same as they treat their existing workers regarding occupational safety and health. Here are the six steps that host employers should take to protect the safety and health of their temporary workers:

1) Train supervisors on OSHA requirements for safety of temporary workers and the allocation of safety responsibilities in any executed staffing agreements.

2) Ensure that supervisors know how to manage all workers when unsafe behaviors happen.

3) Maintain regular communication with a temporary worker’s staffing agency.

4) Ensure that temporary workers are accounted for and specifically referred to in your safety and health policies.

5) Revise, review and update (when necessary) the procedure and risk assessments/job safety analysis for the activities taking place on your premises, which should be documented and shared with the staffing agency.

6) Review the control methods provided and follow the hierarchy of risk control by preferably using engineering or administrative controls rather than personal protective equipment (PPE). Where PPE is provided, ensure there is a PPE program in place. For additional information, see OSHA’s Hierarchy of Controls chart.

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