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In 2013, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration launched the Temporary Worker Initiative to address the risk of work-related injury and illness and protect temporary workers from workplace safety hazards.
The initiative recommends that both host employers and staffing companies detail their respective responsibilities for compliance with OSHA standards in a contract. OSHA holds both staffing companies and host employers jointly responsible for maintaining a safe work environment for temporary workers.
Because the Trump administration has not nominated a new assistant secretary of Labor for OSHA, the agency has been operating with its long-term staff employees, who have not had the authority to change programs, said Ben Huggett, Philadelphia-based shareholder and co-chair of the national workplace health and safety practice at Littler Mendelson P.C.
“They have continued most Obama administration initiatives unchanged,” Mr. Huggett said. “The Temporary Worker Initiative is one which has continued without official change.”
Injury and illness record-keeping responsibility is based on supervision. If an employer supervises a temporary worker daily, the employer is responsible for record keeping.
The responsibility for providing temporary workers with protective equipment, which can include gloves, safety glasses, shoes, earplugs, hard hats, respirators and full-body suits, usually lies with the host employer due to its familiarity with the hazards workers could face.
The staffing company and host employer share the responsibility for training temporary workers, but employers may decide to divide these responsibilities. Both employers should be clear about which aspects of training they will take on and inform the other when training has been completed.
Even though providing information and training to their employees about the hazardous chemicals they will encounter on the job and informing them whenever a new hazard is introduced into their work area is a joint responsibility, the host employer holds the primary responsibility.
The rise in the use of contract and temporary workers raises questions about who is responsible for their safety in the workplace.