Temp StaffingIn the current economy, many companies have turned to the use of temporary staffing employees.  The ability to add additional employees during temporary seasonal or peak periods without incurring permanent payroll expense can be appealing.   There are clear financial benefits to companies that utilize temporary employees to supplement their permanent workforce on an “as-needed” basis.  Two common temporary staffing models are “day labor” and “temp to perm.”

In either case there are certain regulatory obligations you must meet if you are the client or host employer.  Once a temporary employee enters your facility, your firm becomes accountable for the safety and health of that employee for the duration of their employment by you.  While you may not be the employer of record for payroll, tax, benefits, or workers compensation purposes, you have an affirmative obligation to provide a safe workplace to all of your employees—including temporary staffing employees.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has clear expectations for host employers in a temporary staffing relationship.  In a press release dated February 11, 2013, OSHA announced a series of citations had been issued to a Jacksonville, FL employer (Bacardi Bottling Corporation) as the result of a fatal accident to a temporary employee in August of 2012.  It was the temporary employee’s first day on the job.

Specifically, OSHA issued two willful citations, nine serious citations, and one other than serious citation with proposed penalties of $192,000.

The citations were related to:

  • Failure to develop, document, and utilize lockout/tagout procedures
  • Failure to train employees on lockout/tagout procedures
  • Exposing workers to trips, struck-by, and fire hazards
  • Obstructed exit routes
  • Exposure to electrical shock hazards
  • Non-compliance with personal protective equipment requirements

Training Requirements for Temporary Staffing Employees

Companies utilizing temporary staffing employees should have a robust new employee orientation program.  Temporary staffing employees should receive the same new employee orientation training as permanent employees.  Key items include, but are not limited to:  hazard communication guidelines, personal protective equipment requirements, emergency evacuation procedures, accident/incident reporting requirements, and job/task specific safety requirements.

Employers should confirm that all employees (including temporary employees) understand the training they have received and all training efforts should be documented.

Employers should provide regularly scheduled ongoing safety and health training to all employees– including temporary employees—and all training should be documented.  Employers should deliberately observe all employees, including temporary employees, are performing their job related tasks in a safe manner.

 

Personal Protective Equipment for Temporary Staffing Employees

Employers are required to evaluate and provide the personal protective equipment required for each job/task in their workplace.  They are also required to provide the appropriate personal protective equipment to their employees and enforce its use.  This same provision extends to temporary employees.

Accident Reporting and Record Keeping

Employers are required to maintain an occupational injury and illness (OSHA 300) log.  Any employee injury or illness requiring medical treatment and/or resulting in days away from work or days of restricted work are to be recorded on this log.

Host employers are required to report injuries to temporary workers in their employ on this log as if they were full time permanent employees.  While a temporary staffing firm may be the employer of record for workers compensation purposes, the host employer is required to comply with OSHA record keeping requirements for temporary staffing employees.

Conclusion

This is not intended to be an exhaustive list of safety and health compliance requirements for employers who utilize temporary staffing employees.  It is intended to highlight some of the key requirements that many employers may not immediately recognize.

OSHA will assume an aggressive enforcement posture in the case of temporary employees.  Consider the following quotes from Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels upon the announcement of the Bacardi citations:

“A worker’s first day at work shouldn’t be his last day on earth… Employers are responsible for ensuring the safe conditions of all their employees, including those who are temporary…We are seeing untrained workers – many of them temporary workers – killed very soon after starting a new job. This must stop… Employers must train all employees, including temporary workers, on the hazards specific to that workplace – before they start working.”

If you are utilizing temporary employees in any capacity, now is the time to review your company’s training, personal protective equipment, and accident reporting/recordkeeping policies.