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What is the Employer Safety Responsibility for Temporary Workers

Do you hire temporary workers? Do you direct hire temporary employees or do you use a staffing agency? What are your responsibilities with regards to training? If you use a staffing agency, who is responsible for safety training?

These are important questions to ask yourself when hiring temporary employees. In the eyes of OSHA, both the host employer and staffing agency are jointly responsible for maintaining a safe work environment for temporary workers. This will include for example, that training is fulfilled on Hazard Communication and Record keeping requirements.

In the case of citable offenses, both the host employer and staffing agency can be held responsible. This would include lack of adequate training and workplace hazards.  Both share control over the worker, thus responsible for a temporary worker’s safety and health.

There are concerns that employers will use temporary workers as a way to avoid meeting compliance obligations under the OSHA Act and place temporary workers in more hazardous jobs. In these type of situations, there is a lack of job training, no safety or health training and poor explanation of duties. This will of course put temporary workers at a higher risk of injury.

So what are the roles of both the host employer and the staffing agency? Each of you should consider that you are in a position to prevent and correct the potential for injury as well as comply with OSHA standards. As an example, the staffing agency would provide general health and safety training while you, as the host employer, would provide the specific job training that would include the potential hazards.

  • The key is communication between the agency and the host to ensure that the necessary protections are provided. The staffing agency should be evaluating your facility to identify and help eliminate potential hazards. Remember, the staffing agency is not the expert in your company – you are.
  • 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. By knowing the conditions, the staffing agency will find employees that will better fit the position that is being filled.
  • Ignorance of hazards is not an excuse. This puts you, the staffing agency and the temporary employee at a greater risk of injury.
  • 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. They should be checking with the host employee to make sure the temporary worker is working safely and well trained in the duties they are performing.
  • And, just as important: Host employers must treat temporary workers like any other workers in terms of training and safety and health protections. Maintain your integrity as a safe place to work. And if trained properly and safely, the temporary worker might one day become your permanent worker.

You have questions – we have answers. Contact OECS today to see if your safety training meets the standards and guidelines to properly for your temporary workers.