Temporary Workers, OSHA & Your Company

Temporary Workers, OSHA & Your Company

Injured Temporary WorkerNo industry wants the OSHA bullseye on its back, but that’s exactly the situation the staffing industry finds itself in these days.  Not your problem, you say?  It is if your business utilizes temporary employees!

In the past few years there have been some high profile accidents involving temporary workers on the job, including a temporary worker at Bacardi Bottling Corporation who died on his first day at work.

OSHA wants to ensure that temporary workers are just as safe as any other employee in the workplace.  We’ll tell you how this affects your company!

How OSHA views an employer’s responsibility to temporary workers:

OSHA doesn’t care who is paying a temporary employee, but rather what degree of control the parties have over the employee and the manner in which their work is done.

OSHA also looks at the business’s right to assign tasks to the worker, its control over when and how the work is performed, how important the services are to the business, and the skill and judgment the temporary worker applies on the job.

  • This means that if you are using temporary workers in your business and you tell them what to do, when to do it, and how to do it, as far as OSHA is concerned, they are your employees.
  • That doesn’t mean you are responsible for paying the temporary workers or for providing their workers comp benefits, but it does mean you are as responsible for their safety as you are for your own employees. 

What OSHA’s expectations mean for you & the way you manage your tempory workers:

Training:  OSHA requires that all employees be trained before they are exposed to a hazard.  This means that a temporary employee must be trained as well as a regular employee, even if they are only going to working for a day or two.

On the job injuries:  Any on the job injuries sustained by a temporary worker must be recorded on your OSHA 300 Log.  You cannot maintain a separate log for temporary workers, and the staffing company cannot record the injury on their OSHA 300 Log.  Although this can be an area of confusion, OSHA states clearly the log is for all employees including “recordable injuries and illnesses that occur to employees who are not on your payroll if you supervise these employees on a day-to-day basis.”

Protective equipment: If you provide PPE (personal protective equipment) to your employees, you, or the staffing company, must also provide it to your temporary workers.

Don’t worry, OSHA is not targeting businesses that use temporary workers:

OSHA is not targeting audits towards industries that utilize temporary workers.  Instead, compliance inspectors have been told to inquire at worksites if there are temporary workers present.

If there are temps present, they are to note:

  • The name of the staffing agency that employs them
  • Who the workers report to on a day-to-day basis
  • If they have been properly trained, and whether they have the same PPE, knowledge, and procedures to protect themselves that the other employees have been provided

A new OSHA code has been created to document temporary workers’ exposure to health and safety hazards.

Our advice to employes with temporary workers:

Under best practices, bring your staffing partner out to your workplace to best understand your jobs’ requirements and working conditions.  Work closely together with a staffing partner you trust to ensure that safety-conscious employees are being sent to your business.  Ask them about their interviewing and screening procedures to ensure that your business is being protected upfront.

As they say, forewarned is forearmed!  It’s always a good time to tighten up your safety procedures and attitudes, and to make sure that every employee on your premises is safe, regardless of where their paycheck comes from.