Temporary or permanent, all workers have a right to a safe and healthy work place. Each year fatal accidents occur due to a number of avoidable instances caused by their work environment. Looking a little deeper into these unfortunate losses, one key demographic always pops up. The temporary worker.
In 2014, over 4,000 temp workers were killed on the job. That is a staggering statistic for a worker who is only on your team for a short period of time. As an employer, you must ask yourself if your temp workers receive the safety instruction and tools that your full-time employees receive. Is there lack of supervision over these employees? Is there confusion over who should have responsibility over these employees? Leaving these questions unanswered puts you and your workers at risk.
Let's take a look at a case that recently occurred in Wisconsin. A temporary worker required surgery after her hand was caught in a packaging machine. After an inspection revealing machinery hazards, OSHA issued one willful and four serious safety violations to the company with fines totaling $85,800.
Another case in Ohio ended in fines totaling $85,000. The employer failed to provide their workers with training on energy control procedures for machinery. This resulted in a temp worker conducting maintenance without shutting down all electrical sources. The employee suffered severe electrocution and was unable to work for more than four months.
These losses could have been avoided if clear expectations were set from day one of the temporary employee's contract. Let’s discuss some topics that should be addressed if you are filling a position with a temporary worker.
Employer Responsibilities to Protect Temporary Workers
- The host employer, staffing agency, and the actual employee must be held accountable for the safe working practices and environment.
- The key is communication between the agency and the host to ensure that the necessary protections are provided.
- Assign Occupational Safety and Health Responsibilities and define the scope of work in the contract.
- Staffing agencies must take the responsibility to check in on the progress and condition of their employees and their environment periodically.
- Host employers must treat temporary workers like any other workers in terms of training and safety and health protections. A few areas to key in on:
- Supply required Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
- Train and fully discuss their work duties
- Provide compliance and risk safety training
- Arrange training on recognizing safety hazards
- If any changes occur in the temporary employee’s work environment, the staffing agency should be notified.
- Always treat any report of unsafe acts or conditions, no matter the source, with due diligence.
- If a loss does occur, all responsible parties should be required to complete a separate incident investigation and there should be a discussion on implementation of controls to stop this incident from happening again.
By putting in place rules and regulations you will ensure your temporary workers are provided a safe working environment. Is your workplace in compliance?