Q&A with Elizabeth Bowersox
OSHA Says temporary workers must have proper safety training
Q: What should companies that hire temporary workers every summer be concerned about?
A: One of your company’s main concerns has to be safety for your temporary workers, whether they’re students working to earn money during the summer break, additional staff hired for seasonal work, or employees needed to handle a short-term project. According to a recent press release from OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), the federal agency recently has received and investigated many reports of temporary workers suffering serious or fatal injuries, many of which occur within their first week on the job. According to OSHA, the best way to ensure the safety of temporary workers is to make sure they receive the same training and protection that existing workers receive.
Q: What is OSHA doing to address the safety of temporary workers?
A: OSHA has launched a new “Temporary Worker Initiative” that combines enforcement, outreach and training to assure temporary workers are protected in their workplace. In March, OSHA released a bulletin addressing record-keeping requirements involving temporary workers. The bulletin is intended to be the first of many materials the agency is releasing, focusing on how staffing agencies and the staffing agency clients (“host employers”) can work together to make sure their workers are properly trained and protected.
Q: If temporary workers are hired through a staffing agency, who is responsible for the workers’ safety?
A: When temporary workers are employed by both a staffing agency and a host employer, both companies are responsible to some degree for complying with safety laws. The staffing agency and host employer must work together to set up a way for employees to report injuries and illnesses, and promptly communicate this system with the temporary employees. The staffing agency should maintain frequent communication with the temporary workers and host employer so it may be alerted to existing workplace hazards and to any protective measures that may need to be provided to its workers.
Q: Who is responsible for record keeping if the employees are hired through a staffing agency?
A: The host employer, as the temporary employee’s day-to-day supervisor, is responsible for recording the occupational injuries and illnesses of temporary workers on the OSHA 300 log. Inspectors use the data during inspections to help direct their efforts to the hazards that are hurting workers. OSHA may assess citations and monetary penalties for a failure to keep records, including $1,000 for each year the OSHA 300 log isn’t properly kept.
PAULA BURKES, BUSINESS WRiter