OSHA Targets Manufacturers Who Use Staffing Agencies & Temporary Workers

January 15, 2016 - Share on LinkedIn Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

Does your company utilize temporary workers through a staffing agency?  If so, then your business is already on OSHA’s Enforcement Radar. Many employers are under the false impression that they’re not responsible for the health and safety of temporary workers working on their manufacturing floor.  They mistakenly believe that their staffing agency is responsible and will therefore manage all OSHA training and compliance issues for them (the manufacturer).  This misunderstanding is dangerous, and often results in huge fines and penalties for both staffing agencies and manufacturers, not to mention serious injuries and even fatalities & illnesses for temporary workers.  Manufacturers who utilize temporary workers, or “host employers” as OSHA calls them, must fully understand and manage their obligations to these workers under the OSH Act, or face the consequences.Here’s what happened in November to a Temple, TX manufacturer, and their staffing agency, when they failed to get the memo….MooreCo Inc, a furniture manufacturer, was fined $122,500 and added to OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program, after two employees suffered gruesome injuries as a result of machine guarding and Lockout/Tagout violations.  Their staffing agency, Manpower Group US Inc, received an additional fine of $38,500.  More details can be found here. Many more similar fine examples can be found by searching the internet, but the point is that OSHA is specifically targeting manufacturers who utilize temporary workers, and holding both “host employers” and staffing agencies fully accountable when they fail to meet their OSH act obligations.According to OSHA…"Host employers need to treat temporary workers as they treat existing employees. Temporary staffing agencies and host employers share control over the employee, and are therefore jointly responsible for temp employee's safety and health. It is essential that both employers comply with all relevant OSHA requirements."This is a direct quote from Dr. David Michaels, the current head of OSHA, from their website page titled “Protecting Temporary Workers.”  This page also provides some helpful guidelines and suggestions, such as:

  • The key is communication between the agency and the host to ensure that the necessary protections are provided.
  • Staffing agencies have a duty to inquire into the conditions of their workers' assigned workplaces. They must ensure that they are sending workers to a safe workplace.
  • Ignorance of hazards is not an excuse.
  • Staffing agencies need not become experts on specific workplace hazards, but they should determine what conditions exist at their client (host) agencies, what hazards may be encountered, and how best to ensure protection for the temporary workers.
  • The staffing agency has the duty to inquire and verify that the host has fulfilled its responsibilities for a safe workplace.
  • And, just as important: Host employers must treat temporary workers like any other workers in terms of training and safety and health protections.

As the information in this article demonstrates, there’s lots of work and coordination required between host employers and their staffing agencies in order to protect temporary workers and meet joint OSH Act requirements. In summary, staffing agencies need to understand what health and safety hazards exist at client manufacturing sites prior to deploying temporary workers, and manufacturers need to treat, manage and train these workers the same as their direct W2 employees. Doing so will not only protect temporary worker’s health and safety, but also protect host manufacturers from significant fines and penalties.

Questions or concerns about this article and these issues can be sent to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or by calling 512-457-0374.

Russell Carr is the founder and President of Berg Compliance Solutions, LLC.  He has over 15 years of EHS compliance experience, including OSHA, Hazardous Waste Management, and DOT Hazardous Materials. His experience includes past ownership of two energy services businesses, which exposed him to the many challenges that small businesses face when trying to implement & manage OSHA compliance requirements.

Berg Compliance Solutions, LLC specializes in helping small manufacturing & construction companies manage OSHA, EPA, TCEQ, DOT & Related Hazardous Materials compliance.

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