In keeping its momentum on temporary workers, on August 25, 2014, OSHA and NIOSH released a joint publication outlining recommended practices for staffing agencies and host employers using temporary workers.

This publication follows the July 15, 2014 memorandum that was issued to Regional Administrators providing instructions to compliance officers who conduct inspections at worksites with temporary workers.  That memorandum instructs compliance officers to review contracts between the host employer and the staffing agency to determine if safety and health responsibilities are spelled out in the contract, and also instructs compliance officers to consider whether host employers and staffing agencies have met their responsibilities for the safety and health of temporary workers.

The OSHA NIOSH publication reiterates OSHA’s position that staffing agencies and host employers are joint employers of temporary workers and “the extent of the obligations of each employer will vary depending on workplace conditions and should therefore be described in the agreement or contract between employers.”

The publication identifies the following best practices recommended by OSHA and NIOSH:

  • Evaluate the Host Employer’s Worksite
    • Host employer and staffing agency should both review all worksites where temporary workers may work, all task assignments and job hazard analyses
    • Staffing agency should consider using third party safety and health consultants, such as those provided through workers compensation insurance, to assist in determining the conditions temporary workers may be exposed to
    • Staffing agency may consider performing inspections of the workplace of temporary workers
  • Train Agency Staff to Recognize Safety and Health Hazards
    • Trainstaffing agency’s staff on basic safety and health hazards, as well as hazards commonly found in workplaces, so they are easily identifiable
  • Ensure the Employer Meets or Exceeds the Other Employer’s Standards
    • Host employer and staffing agency should consider exchanging safety and health programs
    • Host employer should review training and certification or documentation of temporary workers trained by staffing agency
  • Assign Occupational Safety and Health Responsibilities and Define the Scope of the Work in the Contract
    • Contracts should identify which employer is responsible for specific safety and health duties, such as training
    • Contracts should identify the tasks or work that temporary workers will be assigned and expected to perform
    • Contracts should identify who is responsible for communicating with the temporary worker
  • Injury and Illness Tracking
    • When a temporary worker suffers a work related injury or illness, host employer and staffing agency should communicate with each other to notify the other of such injuries or illnesses
    • The employer responsible for the day-to-day supervision of the temporary worker is responsible for complying with injury and illness recordkeeping
    • Contracts should identify which employer is responsible for the day-to-day supervision and specify that employer as responsible for maintaining the temporary worker’s injury and illness records
  • Conduct Safety and Health Training and New Project Orientation
    • Staffing agency should provide general safety and health training
    • Host employer should provide specific training applicable to the hazards in the workplace
    • “Host employers should provide temporary workers with safety training that is identical or equivalent to that provided to the host employers’ own employees performing the same or similar work”
    • Safety and health orientations should be provided jointly or separately by the host employer and staffing agency
  • Injury and Illness Prevention Program
    • OSHA and NIOSH recommend that each employer have a safety and health program
  • Maintain Contact with Workers
    • Staffing agency should have methods in place to maintain contact with its temporary workers

While the above list is merely a list of “recommendations” or best practices, staffing agencies and host employers can expect that during an OSHA inspection, compliance officers will be looking at whether employers have implemented any of these practices.

A copy of this publication can be found here.