Temporary Workers Get Extra Protection from OSHA

Posted on Friday, June 14, 2019

The flexibility of hiring temporary workers is a great asset to a business. But statistics show, often those workers do not get the safety training they need, or at best, they get inadequate training. Sadly the result is there have been more and more instances when temporary employees have suffered or been involved in fatal injuries. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has identified a lack of adequate safety training as a contributing factor.

In 2013, OSHA issued a memorandum announcing all workplaces which hire temporary workers must ensure compliance with their responsibilities under the OSH Act. This is the primary federal law enacted and signed in 1970 to ensure workers are provided an environment safe from hazards such as toxic chemicals, excessive noise levels, mechanical dangers, heat or cold stress and unsanitary conditions.

Under the Microscope

Apart from evaluating employers' compliance with the rules, field inspectors will also be using updated codes in their OSHA information systems for the purpose of marking safety violations faced by employers. They will be tasked to see if employees are able to undergo proper and adequate training. In many cases where there was training, OSHA found it was not enough to let the workers fully understand the extent of the hazard.

OSHA is also taking a look to determine whether temporary workers were provided with not just sufficient training, but sufficient training in languages they are able to understand. To conduct their research, OSHA field inspectors are now using updated OSHA information system codes to identify non-permanent employees. In addition, they will monitor staffing companies, locations and supervising structures for placement.

To assist their efforts, OSHA is working with the cooperation of employers through the American Staffing Association and a number of staffing agencies. Together, they are expected to examine and promote the use of best practices in workplaces. Plus they will address issues such as workplace safety for permanent and temporary workers, and proper training on health and hazards.

Agreements Aside

Regardless of the contracts between employers and staffing companies, both parties are obligated to ensure a safe and healthy environment for their temporary workers. If a temporary worker does get injured, both the employer and the staffing agency may be held liable by OSHA and the courts. So, if your company uses a staffing agency to hire temps, be sure to review all pertinent rules and study the new regulations. Also be sure your materials -- including manuals, training kits and other resources -- are updated and made available in languages understood by the workers you employ, regardless of status.

If this is a daunting task or just for a little extra assurance, your company may want to consult a specialist or agent to go over the details and safety concerns present in your work environment.

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