Does your company utilize temporary workers through a staffing agency? If so, then your business is already on OSHA’s Enforcement Radar. OSHA fines can increase if you use staffing agencies and temporary workers.
Many employers are under the false impression that they’re not responsible for the health and safety of temporary workers working on their manufacturing floor. They mistakenly believe that their staffing agency is responsible and will therefore manage all OSHA training and compliance issues for them (the manufacturer). This misunderstanding is dangerous, and often results in OSHA huge fines and penalties for both staffing agencies and manufacturers, not to mention serious injuries and even fatalities & illnesses for temporary workers. Manufacturers who utilize temporary workers, or “host employers” as OSHA calls them, must fully understand and manage their obligations to these workers under the OSH Act, or face the consequences.
Here’s what happened in November to a Temple, TX manufacturer, and their staffing agency, when they failed to get the memo….
MooreCo Inc, a furniture manufacturer, was fined $122,500 and added to OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program, after two employees suffered gruesome injuries as a result of machine guarding and Lockout/Tagout violations. Their staffing agency, Manpower Group US Inc, received an additional fine of $38,500. More details can be found at:
Many more similar fine examples can be found by searching the internet, but the point is that OSHA is specifically targeting manufacturers who utilize temporary workers, and holding both “host employers” and staffing agencies fully accountable when they fail to meet their OSHA act obligations.
According to OSHA…
“Host employers need to treat temporary workers as they treat existing employees. Temporary staffing agencies and host employers share control over the employee, and are therefore jointly responsible for temp employee’s safety and health. It is essential that both employers comply with all relevant OSHA requirements.”
This is a direct quote from Dr. David Michaels, the current head of OSHA, from their website page titled “Protecting Temporary Workers.” https://www.osha.gov/temp_workers/ This page announces & summarizes OSHA’s “Temporary Worker Initiative,” which is designed to explain “host employer” and staffing agency joint obligations and responsibilities in managing the health and safety of temporary workers.
Here are some key highlights & guidance from the page:
“OSHA could hold both the host and temporary employers responsible for the violative condition(s) – and that can include lack of adequate training regarding workplace hazards. Temporary staffing agencies and host employers share control over the worker, and are therefore jointly responsible for temporary workers’ safety and health.”
Why OSHA believes temporary workers are at risk:
“OSHA has concerns that some employers may use temporary workers as a way to avoid meeting all their compliance obligations under the OSH Act and other worker protection laws; that temporary workers get placed in a variety of jobs, including the most hazardous jobs; that temporary workers are more vulnerable to workplace safety and health hazards and retaliation than workers in traditional employment relationships; that temporary workers are often not given adequate safety and health training or explanations of their duties by either the temporary staffing agency or the host employer. Therefore, it is essential that both employers comply with all relevant OSHA requirements.”
“Both Host Employers & Staffing Agencies Have Roles”
Here are some best practices to follow when manufacturers and their staffing agencies work together to meet their OSHA obligations:
•The key is communication between the agency and the host to ensure that the necessary protections are provided.
•Staffing agencies have a duty to inquire into the conditions of their workers’ assigned workplaces. They must ensure that they are sending workers to a safe workplace.
•Ignorance of hazards is not an excuse.
•Staffing agencies need not become experts on specific workplace hazards, but they should determine what conditions exist at their client (host) agencies, what hazards may be encountered, and how best to ensure protection for the temporary workers.
•The staffing agency has the duty to inquire and verify that the host has fulfilled its responsibilities for a safe workplace.
•And, just as important: Host employers must treat temporary workers like any other workers in terms of training and safety and health protections.
As the information in this article demonstrates, there’s lots of work and coordination required between host employers and their staffing agencies in order to protect temporary workers and meet joint OSH Act requirements. In summary, staffing agencies need to understand what health and safety hazards exist at client manufacturing sites prior to deploying temporary workers, and manufacturers need to treat, manage and train these workers the same as their direct W2 employees. Doing so will not only protect temporary worker’s health and safety, but also protect host manufacturers from significant fines and penalties.
Questions or concerns about this article and these issues can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 512-457-0374.
WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT HOW TO MANAGE OSHA COMPLIANCE AND PROTECT YOUR COMPANY?
Berg Compliance Solutions, LLC provides OSHA consulting services in Austin, TX and environmental consulting services in Austin, TX.
Email us at email@example.com or call 512-457-0374.