Special Topics in Safety Management

OSHA’s Position on Temps and Safety

Yesterday, we provided tips for keeping temporary employees safe. Today, we look at OSHA’s view on host employer vs. temp agency responsibility for the safety of temps.

“Host employers need to treat temporary workers as they treat existing employees,” says OSHA chief Dr. David Michaels. “Temporary staffing agencies and host employers share control over the employee, and are therefore jointly responsible for temp employees’ safety and health. It is essential that both employers comply with all relevant OSHA requirements.”

Employer Responsibilities to Protect Temporary Workers

To ensure that there is a clear understanding of each employer’s role in protecting employees, OSHA recommends that the host employer and the temporary staffing agency set out their respective responsibilities for compliance with applicable OSHA standards in their contract. Including such terms in a contract will ensure that each employer complies with all relevant regulatory requirements, thereby avoiding confusion as to the employer’s obligations.

Joint Responsibility

When temporary staffing agencies and host employers share control over temp workers, OSHA maintains that they are jointly responsible for temporary workers’ safety and health. This joint responsibility includes issues such as ensuring fulfillment of OSHA requirements covering:

  • Mandated safety training
  • Hazard communication
  • Recordkeeping

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While the extent of responsibility under the law of staffing agencies and host employers is dependent on the specific facts of each case, staffing agencies and host employers are in every case jointly responsible for maintaining a safe work environment for temporary workers.

Employer and Agency Roles

OSHA says that both host employers and staffing agencies have roles in complying with workplace health and safety requirements, and it could hold both the host and temporary employers responsible for workplace conditions that violate safety and health standards.

When it comes to safety training, OSHA suggests that staffing agencies might provide general safety and health training, and host employers would provide specific training tailored to the particular workplace equipment/hazards.

The key to temp worker safety, OSHA concludes, is good communication between the agency and the host to ensure that the necessary protections are provided.


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