Does Your Company Employ Temporary Workers?

If your facility has temporary workers, you should be aware of a new recommended practice, jointly issued by OSHA and NIOSH on August 25, 2014.  This document, titled Recommended Practices:  Protecting Temporary Workers, applies to temporary (or supplied) worker staffing agencies and host employers to better protect temporary workers from job hazards.  The host employer, let’s say a manufacturing facility, and the staffing agency are joint employers of the temporary workers and, therefore, are both responsible for the safety of the worker.  Since the extent of responsibility of each of these employers (agency and host employer) will vary depending on the situation, having a written agreement that spells out who is responsible for what is critical.

The recommended practices document is simple and concise at a mere 6 pages in length and includes coverage of the following topics:

  • Evaluate the host employer’s worksite – to understand the job hazards prior to assignment of temporary workers
  • Train agency staff to recognize safety and health hazards – to bolster the H & S knowledge of typically thinly staffed agencies
  • Ensure the employer meets or exceeds the other employer’s standards – to allow each party to learn and improve their safety and health standards by comparing to the other party
  • Assign occupational safety and health responsibilities and define the scope of work in the contract – to minimize misunderstanding down the line
  • Injury and illness tracking – should be done by both employers, but only legally mandated for the host employer
  • Conduct safety and health training and new project orientation – to get projects off to a safe and healthy start for the temporary workers
  • Injury and illness prevention program – to keep injuries and illnesses of temporary workers to a bare minimum
  • Maintain contact with workers – to be able to make mid-course corrections

The strong focus of the document is on clearly defining responsibilities at the beginning of assignments and on keeping up with communication among the employers and the workers during the course of the projects.

OSHA has a useful website that provides additional information on employee and employer rights and responsibilities for protecting temporary workers.

For help with your health and safety program for your temporary workers (and full time employees), please call me at 215-881-9401 or email me at tom@eesolutions.net.

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