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OSHA Protecting Temp Workers

OSHA Protecting Temp Workers:  A Long Known Problem Finally Addressed

In response to a marked increase in the number of job-related fatalities among temporary workers, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has announced an initiative to make sure all workplaces that hire temporary workers are compliant with their responsibilities under the OSH Act, to protect such workers from hazards in the workplace.

The new initiative, which was announced via an April 29 memo and press release, empowers OSHA inspectors to determine whether any on-site workers are temporary, and whether any of those temporary employees are exposed to hazards or safety violations. They have also been instructed to assess whether or not those temporary workers have received the proper safety training for the job they’re performing.

Under the new initiative, inspectors will assess whether or not such employers are in compliance, and they will denote when temporary workers are exposed to violations. In addition to hazard assessments, inspectors will also evaluate workers to make sure they’ve received the required training for any job. They have found that, in a number of the accidents that caused temporary worker fatalities, the workers had received inadequate training or instruction for the job, and that lack of training was a contributing factor in their death.

OSHA has developed a new OIS code to identify temporary workers, and agency inspectors will also look into the temporary worker’s staffing company, and who will be most responsible for the temporary worker’s supervision. To that end, they are now working with such organizations as the American Staffing Association to develop best practices for ensuring that temporary workers don’t fall through the workplace safety cracks. Companies and staffing firms are both required to make sure workers are provided with a safe and healthy environment, and are in compliance with safety and health laws.

Worker education and training should always be improving, and oversight should increase, and send the numbers of worker deaths downward. Instead, the numbers are increasing. Temporary workers are subject to the same standards of workplace safety as all other workers, and it’s good that OSHA is taking steps to fix what is an alarming problem.


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