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Safe+Sound Blog Series: Part One

This Safe+Sound Week, TempForce is bringing you must-know information about how temporary staffing agencies and staffing clients should work together to protect our temporary workforce. This is Part One in our Safe+Sound Week Blog Series!

Working Safe with a Temporary Agency
Part 1: Safety and Health Training

For smart companies, the question of workplace safety is simple: protecting workers should be a priority. Period.

But Temporary Employment situations can lead to much more complicated questions about which employer is responsible for temporary employees’ safety. Is it the temporary agency which employs them… or the client company at whose facility they work?


The Temporary Worker Initiative

In recent years, a rising trend in temporary employment has inspired the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to issue the Temporary Work Initiative.

This new initiative aims at a clearer understanding of the responsibilities of temporary agencies and their clients. OSHA makes it clear that ultimately, both employers are responsible for the safety and health training of temporary employees. (Source)


Defining Our Roles

The Temporary Worker Initiative defines the staffing relationship with precise terms: the Staffing Agency is the company that provides temporary workers and serves as the Employer-of-Record. The staffing agency’s client, who uses temporary workers at their facilities, is called the Host Employer.

Together, the Staffing Agency and Host Employer are considered Joint Employers. Bothcompanies are responsible to some degree for determining the conditions of employment (Source), so host employers and staffing agencies are considered jointly responsible for temporary workers’ safety and health. (Source)


Who Is Legally Responsible?

OSHA can hold both the host and staffing agency responsible for safety conditions that violate legal standards, including inadequate training. Each employment situation is unique, so the extent of legal responsibility and liability depends on the facts of each case.

A recent survey of OSHA citations in Temporary Work Initiative cases found that in the majority of cases, “both the host employer and the staffing agency were cited, but the host employer was cited for substantially more violations.” (Source) According to SHRM, we can expect OSHA to continue issuing citations like these under the TWI in 2017.


How Are Employers’ Duties Generally Determined?

OSHA gives us this key concept: each employer “should consider the hazards it is in a position to prevent and correct.” (Source) In most cases, Staffing Agencies are in a position to provide general safety and health training, and host employers are responsible for job-specific training designed for their particular worksite.

The Host Employer’s Responsibilities

Since Host Employers are often in the best position to provide it, they are usually responsible for temporary workers’ site-specific safety training. The Host typically has control over the day-to-day operations and daily supervision of temporary workers. Host Employers are also familiar with the hazards of the specific job tasks, machinery, etc., and understand the training necessary to protect workers from those specific hazards.

OSHA makes it clear: “Host employers must treat temporary workers like any other workers in terms of training and safety and health protections.” (Source)


The Staffing Agency’s Responsibilities

Since staffing agencies like TempForce recruit for many positions, OSHA states that we are not expected to “become experts on specific workplace hazards.” (Source)

Instead, the Agency is usually responsible for generic safety and health training, providing workers with the basic abilities to identify hazardous work situations, to report hazards, and to report injuries. TempForce makes sure all our workers are trained to use our reporting system for promptly reporting safety incidents to TempForce and to their host employer.

It is also the Staffing Agency’s duty to inquire into the conditions of work assignments, and to ensure that host employers’ site-specific training is adequate. TempForce offers scheduled facility visits and walkthroughs, so our team can become familiar with our customers’ site-specific needs. Another feature we offer is customized orientations, which can include site-specific safety presentations, videos, or other safety training tools provided by our customers.


Contracts Can Help to Define Duties

One of the recommended ways to ensure a mutual understanding between Joint Employers is to set out our respective responsibilities in a contract. Defining these roles in a contract will ensure that temporary agencies like TempForce and our staffing clients are fully compliant with all of the new regulatory requirements, and we can join forces in our commitment to workplace safety!


In tomorrow’s Safe+Sound Blog, we will cover how Joint Employers should handle Personal Protective Equipment. Don’t miss it!

Posted on 06/13/2017