Temporary Workers

Temporary Workers

The use of temporary workers may seem like an easy solution in times of increased production, and it can be. However, it is important to highlight the pitfalls that can come with this quick fix, in order to avoid unnecessary complications down the road. When considering the use of temporary labor, it is vital that host employers understand their responsibilities to those employees.

OSHA’s Temporary Worker Initiative (TWI) states that temporary workers are entitled to the same protections under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (the OSH Act) as all other covered workers.

A temporary worker is considered a joint employee between the host company and the staffing agency. Although different aspects of the temporary worker’s contract can and should be negotiated before assignment, the primary responsibility for the worker’s safety falls on the Host Employer. The Host Employer has the most knowledge of the potential hazards and supervises the Temporary Worker, therefore they accept responsibility for making sure the Temporary worker is aware of these hazards and appropriately trained. Communication between staffing agencies and the host employer is key. The Staffing Agency has a duty to inquire into the conditions of the workplace, verifying the host employer is fulfilling their responsibilities.

Training

While staffing agencies may provide generalized safety training, it is the host employer’s responsibility to ensure all site-specific hazards are made known and appropriate precautions are taken. Host employers must treat temporary workers like any other worker in terms of training, safety, and health issues. Temporary workers must be made aware of any known hazards in the workplace including, but not limited to, equipment hazards, chemical hazards, emergency procedures and incident reporting.

Whose employee is it anyway?

A temporary worker is considered a joint employee between the host company and the staffing agency. Although different aspects of the temporary worker’s contract can and should be negotiated before assignment, the primary responsibility for the worker’s safety falls on the Host Employer. The Host Employer has the most knowledge of the potential hazards and supervises the Temporary Worker, therefore they accept responsibility for making sure the Temporary worker is aware of these hazards and appropriately trained. Communication between staffing agencies and the host employer is key. The Staffing Agency has a duty to inquire into the conditions of the workplace, verifying the host employer is fulfilling their responsibilities.

Unless otherwise negotiated in a contract, the host employer is responsible for providing the appropriate PPE that is required to protect the temporary worker from the identified hazards in their workplace and to train them in the proper use and care of that equipment.

Forklift operators may be certified through the staffing agency but it is the host employer’s responsibility to verify the operator’s abilities and complete a skill assessment on the site-specific equipment they will be required to operate.

What happens when a Temporary Worker is Injured

If a Temporary worker is injured, the same OSHA reporting requirements, investigation and record keeping should be followed by the Host employer as with any other employee. The Host employer must follow OSHA’s record-keeping rules, which includes reporting the injury on the host employer’s 300 log.

The staffing agency will need to be notified and may want to perform their own investigation depending on the severity of the injury. If an incident results in an OSHA investigation, citations and penalties could be issued to both the host employer and the staffing agency.

Ultimately, the keys to success are: (1) understanding your contract with the staffing agency, and (2) Orienting the temporary workers and providing the necessary training to them before they begin work.

Reference: https://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3735.pdf