OSHA and NIOSH teamed up to issue a guidance containing safety and health best practices for employers and their temporary staffing agencies.
OSHA says temporary workers are at greater risk of injury or illness. OSHA Administrator Dr. David Michaels said, “Whether temporary or permanent, all workers always have a right to a safe and healthy workplace. Staffing agencies and the host employers are joint employers of temporary workers and both are responsible for providing and maintaining safe working conditions.”
In July OSHA told its inspectors to issue citations to one or both parties if an investigation reveals temp workers were exposed to hazardous conditions.
The new OSHA-NIOSH guidance says the written contract between the employer and temp agency should clearly define the temp worker’s tasks and each employer’s safety and health responsibilities.
“The joint employment structure requires effective communication and a common understanding of the division of responsibilities for safety and health,” the guidance states.
Other recommendations include joint evaluations of the worksite, training temp agency representatives to identify and eliminate potential safety and health hazards, and providing safety training and new project orientation to temp employees.
Staffing agencies are urged to maintain contact with temporary workers to verify the host employer has fulfilled its responsibilities for a safe workplace.
For purposes of the guidance, “temporary workers” are defined as those supplied to a host employer by a temporary agency, regardless of whether the job is actually temporary.
Although largely phrased as voluntary, a guidance section references the legally-required reporting duty of the host employer. OSHA issued a temp worker reporting requirement guidance last Spring.
OSHA and the American Staffing Association earlier this year entered into an agreement to work together to improve working conditions for temporary workers (AA, 8-15-14, P. 3).