Safety Training for Temporary Workers

Hiring temporary workers for special projects or seasonal work is a common practice in the construction industry, but it does not exempt the employer from the responsibility of safety training equal to that of permanent employees.

In the case of hiring workers through a temporary agency, OSHA could hold both the host and temporary employers responsible for dangerous conditions–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.

In May of this year, OSHA cited a construction company and staffing agency after a temporary employee installing sewer lines suffered a fatal injury in a trench collapse. The company faces $139,684 in proposed penalties and the temporary agency faces the maximum allowed $12,934 in proposed penalties.

Because 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, they could be more vulnerable to workplace safety and health hazards and retaliation. Therefore, it is essential that both employers comply with all relevant OSHA requirements.

A key concept is that each employer should consider the hazards it is in a position to prevent and correct in order to comply with OSHA standards. For example: staffing agencies might provide general safety and health training, and host employers provide specific training tailored to the particular workplace equipment/hazards. Above all, host employers must treat temporary workers like any other workers in terms of training and safety and health protections.

Specifically, a contract should outline the tasks that the temporary worker is expected to perform, and the safety and health responsibilities of each employer. For example, should the job tasks require personal protective equipment, the contract should state what equipment will be needed and which employer will supply it. The worker should be informed of these details before beginning the job. Clearly defining the scope of the temporary worker’s tasks in the agency-host contract discourages the host employer from asking the worker to perform tasks that the worker is not qualified or trained to perform or which carry a higher risk of injury.

For more information about safety training, contact our offices at Diversified Safety Services.



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