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New best practices for temporary workers

Motivated co- workers sitting next to each other and looking at some contracts.

New best practices for temporary workers

To fill critical openings and to maintain flexibility in economic uncertainty, more employers are hiring temporary workers. OSHA and other organizations have long argued that temporary workers are at increased risk of injury because they are often placed in various jobs which can be hazardous, aren’t properly trained, have language and cultural barriers, and are subject to retaliation. OSHA frequently cites both host employers and staffing companies for safety and health violations related to temporary workers.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), together with several partners, recently released a new set of best practices for protecting temporary workers. This manual builds on resources developed by OSHA’s Temporary Worker Initiative, launched in 2013. The best practices include real-life scenarios of how to implement the recommended practices and are organized into three sections:

  • How to evaluate and address workplace safety and health in written contracts
  • Training for temp workers and their worksite supervisors
  • Injury and illness reporting, response, and recordkeeping

There are also checklists that cover all three sections. For staffing agencies, there is a slide deck to help educate host employers.

It reminds host employers that before contracting with a staffing company, the following steps should be taken:

  • Jointly review with the staffing company all job descriptions, job hazard analyses, equipment/machinery, and worksites to identify potential exposures and necessary protections, training, and PPE
  • Provide safety data and other information to staffing company
  • Invite staffing company to visit worksites for safety appraisal
  • Ensure staffing company has a commitment to safety, including a process to evaluate candidates for the necessary qualification and/or experience

Joint responsibilities should be set forth in a written contract that includes:

  • Pertinent job information
  • Communication and documentation responsibilities
  • Injury and illness reporting, response, and recordkeeping responsibilities
  • Other aspects of workplace safety and health

The NORA Services Sector Council will host a related webinar on August 30 from 11:00 AM to 12:00 PM ET to provide an overview of the best practices. Registration can be found online.