OSHA Begins Targeting Staffing Agencies & Issuing Significant Fines & Penalties

OSHA has begun following through on their recent threat to target staffing agencies for health & safety violations.

On July 15th, OSHA issued a memorandum regarding intentions to ramp up enforcement efforts directed at staffing agencies and host employers in an effort to protect “temporary workers”, as well as to provide general guidance to both staffing agencies and host employers, who are often considered “joint employers,” on their health and safety compliance responsibilities (including written programs, record keeping requirements, inspections, employee training, etc.). The memorandum also makes clear that both “joint employers’ are potentially liable for fines and penalties resulting from enforcement inspections.

Some actual examples of staffing agencies getting fined this summer:

  • July: Fresh From Texas Inc., and staffing agency iWorks Personnel Inc. have been cited for 18 violations by OSHA for exposing workers to noise, chemicals and uncontrolled energy. The total proposed fine is $135,200. $6,300 of the total fine was assessed to iWorks Personnel for failing to train their employees on chemical hazards.
  • July: OSHA inspectors found that temporary workers employed by Marathon Staffing Corp., while working at a company called Sterilite’s, were exposed to hearing hazards and were later fined $7,000 because the staffing agency failed to administer an effective hearing conservation program.
  • June: OSHA fined Sea Watch International $35,410 following the death of a worker in January 2014. The company was cited for failing to implement lockout/tagout procedures that protect workers who clean machinery. The agency also fined Workforce Unlimited Inc., who supplied temporary workers to the plant, $9,000 for lack of lockout/tagout procedures, lack of chemical hazard communication training and exposing workers to ladder hazards.
  • June: OSHA fined 4 different staffing agencies $6,000 each for failing to perform hazard assessments while working at an Amazon fulfillment center in New Jersey, following the death of a worker.
  • June: Maplewood Beverage Packers, of New Jersey, and Corporate Resource Services Corp., the agency that supplied labor to the bottling company, were fined $171,270 after an employee was injured falling from a latter. The staffing agency was fined $11,000 for failing to implement and maintain a hearing conservation program.

This recent trend is only going to get worse for the staffing industry as OSHA continues to ramp up this new enforcement initiative. In addition to OSHA fines and penalties, staffing agencies face potential civil and even criminal liability if their employees or injured or killed on the job, especially if the staffing agency can’t prove that it maintains an OSHA compliant health and safety program.

With such serious consequences for non-compliance, it’s become more critical than ever for staffing agencies to take immediate action to ensure that they’re in OSHA compliance AND remain in compliance.

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