Temporary workers: Safe and healthy workplace for all

Whether a job is temporary or permanent, all workers in the U.S. have a right to a healthy and safe workplace. In order for temporary workers to have this, the host employer and the staffing agency must work together. In some cases, the responsibility of keeping a workplace healthy and safe will overlap between the two. When this happens, communication is necessary to ensure that the division of responsibility is understood by both parties.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Heath have put together the following recommendations so that temporary workers are better protected.

-- Evaluate the host employer's work site. This should include the hazards that might exist at the worksite and how to ensure the best protection for temporary workers.

-- The staffing agency employees need training to recognize health and safety hazards.

-- The safety standards of the host employer should be higher than the safety standards of the staffing agency.

-- The employer's health and safety responsibilities and the tasks the temporary worker will be doing should be listed in the contract between the host employer and the staffing agency. If safety equipment is needed, the contract needs to state which agency will provide it.

-- Workplace illness and injuries should be tracked by both agencies. Both agencies should also investigate the incidents. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, though, requires that the host employer is responsible for tracking.

-- Health and safety training must be provided and in a language that the temporary workers understand. It is the responsibility of both agencies.

These are just a few of the recommendations that can help prevent temporary workers from health and safety incidents. If injured on the job, temporary workers should apply for workers' compensation benefits. Appeals can be handled by an attorney when necessary.

Source: OSHA and National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, "Protecting Temporary Workers," accessed July 01, 2016

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