Partner with staffing agencies to protect your temporary workers
In today’s gig economy, temp work is big, booming business. In the U.S., there are about 20,000 staffing and recruiting companies. According to the report, “2015 Largest Staffing Firms in the United States” by Staffing Industry Analysts, 122 firms generated a combined $69.4 billion in U.S. staffing revenue. But for years OSHA has feared many temps aren’t getting the protection they need.
Your best practices checklist
If you use temps, check off how many of OSHA’s 10 best practices you and your staffing agency follow:
- Agencies evaluate the host employer worksite.
- Train agency staff to recognize safety and health hazards.
- Tasks that temp work is expected to perform, and the safety and health responsibilities of each employer, should be stated in the contract and should be communicated to the worker before beginning work.
- Both the host employer and the staffing agency should track and where possible investigate the cause of workplace injuries to temps. OSHA requires injury and illness records be kept by the employer who provides day to day supervision.
- The supervising employer is required to set up a method for employees to report work-related injuries and illnesses.
- Host employers should provide temp workers with safety training identical or equal to that provided to the host employers’ own employees performing the same or similar work.
- Host employers should train temps on emergency procedures, first aid, how to obtain medical treatment, and how to evacuate the worksite (knowledge of exit routes).
- It’s recommended but not mandatory that both staffing agencies and host employers have safety and health programs. Employers are required to have hazard-specific programs for exposures to certain hazards, such as bloodborne pathogens, hearing conservation, hazard communication, respiratory protection, and control of hazardous energy (lockout/tagout).
- Staffing agencies and host employers should partner to conduct investigations of injuries, illnesses and close calls.
- Agencies have a system in place for temps to report any hazards and cases where workers’ tasks are altered by the host employer from what was previously agreed upon. Some agencies have a hotline for their workers to call to report problems at the host employer’s worksite.
Bottom line OSHA requirements
- Both host employers and staffing agencies have roles in complying with workplace health and safety requirements and they share responsibility for ensuring worker safety and health.
- Each employer should consider the hazards it is in a position to prevent and correct, and in a position to comply with OSHA standards (OSHA’s emphasis).
- The key is communication between the agency and the host to ensure that the necessary protections are provided.
- t Staffing agencies have a duty to inquire into the conditions of their workers' assigned workplaces. They must ensure that they are sending workers to a safe workplace.
- Ignorance of hazards is not an excuse.
- Staffing agencies need not become experts on specific workplace hazards, but they should determine what conditions exist at their 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 workers in terms of training and safety and health protections (OSHA’s emphasis).