The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the federal agency responsible for enforcing workplace safety and health legislation, has been taking a harder line on companies and staffing agencies which utilize temporary workers. As we have mentioned before on this blog, temporary workers have come into more widespread use in recent years, and with that there has been an increasing concern about the risks these workers face because of their position in the workplace.
Temp workers are more likely than permanent employees to be injured or killed in the workplace. Part of this has to do with lack of training and being given more dangerous job assignments, though there are probably other factors involved. One problem with the situation is that the companies that benefit from temporary workers are often not responsible for paying workers’ compensation and other benefits.
According to OSHA, both temporary staffing agencies and host employers are responsible for ensuring a safe work environment for temporary employees. The guiding principle for each is to “prevent and correct” the hazards they are in a position to prevent and correct. Host employers have the ability to directly improve the safety of the work environment, to be sure, but staffing agencies can provide better training. Both are important aspects of workplace safety.
It is particularly important for temporary workers to understand the terms of the contract they are working under. It is especially important for temp workers to be able to articulate who is responsible for providing workers’ compensation benefits. When a workplace injury occurs, these benefits are an important source of support.
Source: EHS Today, “Safety 2014: OSHA Focusing on Protecting Temporary Workers,” Josh Cable, July 3, 2014.