The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) today released a publication called Recommended Practices for use by staffing agencies and host employers to better protect temporary workers from hazards on the job.
OSHA chief David Michaels announced the publication during his speech at the Voluntary Protection Programs Participants' Association (VPPPA) annual conference in National Harbor, Md. The new Recommended Practices publication highlights the joint responsibility of the staffing agency and host employer to ensure temporary workers are provided a safe work environment.
"An employer's commitment to the safety of temporary workers should not mirror these workers' temporary status," said Michaels. "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. Our new Recommended Practices publication highlights this joint responsibility."
Temporary workers are at increased risk of work-related injury and illness. OSHA's Temporary Worker Initiative, launched last year, includes outreach, training and enforcement to assure that temporary workers are protected in their workplaces. In recent months, OSHA has received and investigated many reports of temporary workers suffering serious or fatal injuries, some in their first days on the job. The Recommended Practices publication focuses on ensuring that temporary workers receive the same training and protection that existing workers receive.
"Workers sent by a staffing agency to a worksite deserve the same level of protection from workplace hazards as the host employer's workers do," said NIOSH Director John Howard. "Recognizing that temporary workers are often new to the workplace to which they are sent, we believe these recommended practices will provide a strong foundation for host employers and staffing agencies to work together to provide a comprehensive program that protects the safety and health of all workers."
The new guidance recommends that staff agency/host employer contracts clearly define the temporary worker's tasks and the safety and health responsibilities of each employer. Staffing agencies should maintain contact with temporary workers to verify that the host has fulfilled its responsibilities for a safe workplace.