Temporary Workers and Safety

According to David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA, “Host employers need to treat temporary workers as they treat existing employees. Temporary staffing agencies and host employers share control over the employee, and are therefore jointly responsible for temp employee’s safety and health. It is essential that both employers comply with all relevant OSHA requirements.”

This means that temporary staffing agencies and the host employers are jointly responsible for maintaining a safe work environment for temp workers. This includes but not limited to OSHA training, hazard communication, and record keeping. OSHA can hold both the host and temporary employers responsible for the violated condition. Here’s some additional information on temporary workers and safety.

OSHA has concerns that some employers may use temporary workers as a way to avoid meeting all their compliance obligations under the OSHA Act and other worker protection laws; that temporary workers get placed in a variety of jobs, including the most hazardous jobs; that temporary workers are more vulnerable to workplace safety and health hazards and retaliation than workers in traditional employment relationships; that temporary workers are often not given adequate safety and health training or explanations of their duties by either the temporary staffing agency or the host employer. Therefore, it is essential that both employers comply with all relevant OSHA requirements.

OSHA says that each employer should consider the hazards it is in a position to prevent and correct and in a position to comply with the OSHA standards. An example of this would be staffing agencies could provide general safety and health training and host employers provide specific training tailored to the work the temp employee will be performing.  The key is communication between the two employers to ensure proper training is received by the temp workers.

Fatal Fact: A 27-year-old employed through a staffing agency to work as an equipment cleaner at a food manufacturing plant. While cleaning a piece of machinery, he came into contact with rotating parts and was pulled into the machine, sustaining fatal injuries. The manufacturing plant’s procedures for cleaning the equipment were unsafe, including steps in which cleaners worked near the machine while it was energized and parts were moving. Additionally, while the company’s permanent maintenance employees were provided with training on procedures to ensure workers were not exposed to energized equipment during maintenance or cleaning, this training was not provided to cleaners employed through the staffing agency.

Disclaimer: The information and suggestions contained in these safety talks are believed to be reliable. However, the authors of the topics and the owners of this web site accept no legal responsibility for the correctness, sufficiency, or completeness of such information or suggestions contained within these topics. These guidelines do not supercede local, state, or federal regulations and must not be construed as a substitute for, or legal interpretation of, any OSHA regulations.