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Safety to be a focus for temporary workers in 2015

Posted on January 1st, 2015 Read time: 2 minutes

Temporary workers will continue to be relied on in 2015 as companies look to add to their payrolls without making a significant increase to their overhead. Working with supplemental staffing agencies is a great way for companies to utilize skilled labor without making a commitment to hire them in a full-time capacity.

Certainly there will be times when temporary workers are converted over to permanent status within their host organization, but for the most part, these individuals are there to provide a service. As the economy continues to improve, supplemental staff will be utilized frequently. Both an employer of record and its client base will need to be aware of several changes enacted by OSHA that affects the way temps are managed.

OSHA making safety a priority for temporary workers
Although an employer of record may have a diverse roster of individuals, all with varying skills, many individuals on assignment don't receive the same level of training as their permanent counterparts. In these instances, the chance that serious injuries can occur is all too real.  

"We've known for 100 years that new workers are three or four times more likely to be injured or killed on the job than workers who have a year of seniority," OSHA chief Dr. David Michaels told EHS Today. "We know that temporary workers are new at a workplace four, five, six times a year – they're always new workers. We also know that they're often given the most hazardous jobs. And finally, we know that host employers are less likely to devote resources to train them."

As a result, OSHA implemented the Temporary Worker Initiative in April 2013, which was aimed at keeping supplemental staffing employees safe while on the job. The primary focuses of the TWI is increased communication between an employer of record and its clients, as well as making sure that records of injuries and illnesses are accurately kept and maintained.

In addition, temporary agencies must take employees through basic health and safety training and when workers arrive at a job site. Also, hosts must get supplemental staff members up to speed on occupational safety hazards hat exist on the job site.

EHS Today also highlighted a joint initiative developed by OSHA and the American Staffing Association aimed at educating an employer of record and any clients they may have about their responsibility to protect temps on the job at all times. Additionally, temporary workers are also made aware of their rights as employees through the ASA and OSHA partnership.

As the temporary workforce continues to expand in both size and scope, safety will continue to be the utmost priority, both for an employer of record and the temporary workers themselves. Staying up to date on the new guidelines as well as the financial penalties for operating outside of them will be important in 2015 and beyond.

The TWI states clearly that ignorance will not be an acceptable excuse. This applies to both supplemental staffing agencies as well as their clients. In addition, while companies that employ temps don't have to demonstrate a level of expertise regarding occupational hazards found on client sites, they bear a responsibility to ensure that their representatives have been made aware of these dangers and understand how to protect themselves from serious harm.

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