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How OSHA Protects Temporary Workers

OSHAHave you ever heard of Workers’ Memorial Day? It’s an international day of remembrance for workers who were killed or injured at work. In 1970, the AFL-CIO declared April 28th as Worker’s Memorial Day and it’s been recognized around the world in various ways ever since.

Since 1970, a lot has been done to keep all workers – permanent and temporary – safe on the job. In fact, 1970 was the year that OSHA – the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, was established as an agency within the U.S. Department of Labor. Congress established OSHA under the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act and President Nixon signed it into law on December 29, 1970.

OSHA Temporary Worker Initiative
In more recent years, OSHA launched the Temporary Worker Initiative (TWI). TWI helps prevent work-related injury and illness among temporary workers by focusing on compliance with safe and health requirements when temp workers are employed. Here’s how OSHA and the TWI protect these workers:

  • What is a temporary worker? According to the TWI, temporary workers are defined as workers who are hired and paid by a staffing agency and supplied to a host employer. These workers are hired on a temporary basis. OSHA considers the staffing agency and host employer to be joint employers of the worker.
  • Who is responsible? The staffing agency and host employer both have a responsibility to protect temp workers under the OSH Act; according to OSHA, if there is any compliance inspection involving a temp worker, compliance officers must determine if each party – staffing agency and employer – has met their responsibilities. OSHA also states that employer obligations will vary for each workplace and can be confirmed through an agreement/contract.
  • Temp worker rights. When it comes to rights and protections, temp workers have the same rights as other workers. Section 11(c) of the OSH Act protects temp workers who report injuries or illness, or voice concerns about unsafe or unhealthy workplace conditions.
  • Educational Resources. OSHA has a number of helpful educational resources for both employers and employees. A great starting point to check out is the Protecting Temporary Workers website site page on the OSHA site. Here are some topic-specific resources that are also worth reading:

Keeping temporary workers safe on the job is of extreme importance for all employers. It’s also important for workers to understand their rights and follow established safety guidelines put forth by their place of employment. If you have any questions about the topic, contact us.