What Are My Responsibilities In Protecting Temporary Employees?
If your company hires temporary employees to work on job sites or in your facility, it’s critical to understand your responsibilities in protecting those temporary workers. Even when you hire through a staffing agency and the workers are employees of that agency, your company is what OSHA calls a host employer, and in terms of safety protection, you and the staffing agency are considered joint employers; your company shares in the responsibility and liability for temporary employees working on your jobs.
Safety And Protections For Temporary Employees
The Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act of 1970 specifies that temporary workers are entitled to the same protections as all other covered workers. In addition, OSHA issued a more recent bulletin to clarify that whistleblower protection applies equally to temporary and permanent employees; neither of a temporary workers’ joint employers can retaliate or discriminate against a worker who reports an injury or safety concern. This includes re-assigning the employee to a less desirable or lower paid position; firing, laying off, or refusing to re-hire; and threatening or intimidating the employee.
In terms of safety, your company is responsible to ensure that all workers, temporary and otherwise, are trained in safety procedures relevant to the jobsite, materials, and equipment in use at that site; that they have all of the required personal protective equipment (PPE) needed to work safely in your environment; and you must ensure that the employees are trained on their use, so they can demonstrate a correct understanding of using them.
Who Is Responsible For What?
OSHA has established legal precedents that both joint employers can be held liable for workplace injuries to temporary employees. Those workers may be employed by the staffing agency, but your company is the one supervising and directing them on the job. In most cases, your company is responsible for recording illnesses and injuries. Your contract with the staffing agency does not override this liability. It’s also important to establish a reporting procedure and train everyone in your workplace, including temps, on that procedure.
Undoubtedly, you have a work safety plan in place for your permanent employees, and that plan should inform your approach to putting temporary employees to work. If you don’t hire a lot of temps, you’ll most likely be on your own for safety training and certification. If you use a high volume of temps from one staffing agency, you may be able to negotiate training and certification into your contract with the agency. No matter how it’s handled, it’s in your company’s best interest to require safety training and certification and to have supervisors ask every new temp for a demonstration that they know how to correctly use the PPEs required to do the work they were hired for.
Protect Your Workers And Your Company
By treating all workers on your jobsites equally, in terms of safety training and workplace safety, most especially including PPE, and working from an established plan for safety procedures, equipment, and reporting, you provide the best possible protection for your workers and your company. To learn more about establishing an effective safety-training plan for your workers, contact Optimum Safety Management. We can help you develop and implement a safety training and certification program that ensures your workers are not only provided with information and equipment, but that they are competent in applying them toward a safe workplace.