Hiring temp workers with the help of a staffing agency can be a smart time-saving and cost-saving move for employers. But, as a recent SHRM article states, just because a temporary worker isn’t employed by your company doesn’t mean your organization is exempt from potential litigation, should any workplace incident, like an injury, occur.
Here’s one example from that same SHRM article:
An Alabama auto parts manufacturer, for instance, was on the hook – along with two staffing agencies – for $2.5 million in penalties for federal safety and health violations last year after a temporary worker was crushed to death inside a machine, according to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Had the staffing agencies and manufacturer provided the temp with proper safety training and equipment, they would have averted the fatality, OSHA reports.
The sad reality is that workplace tragedies like this happen across the U.S. every day, particularly in the manufacturing/industrial sectors where workers have a greater likelihood of working with large, heavy machinery. But the good news is with the proper safety guidelines and training put in place, employers and staffing agencies can maintain temp worker safety and prevent incidents like the one above from happening. Here are 3 tips for making it happen:
Tip #1 – Set Clear Safety Guidelines
According to OSHA and their OSH Act, 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. The employer’s obligations will vary for each workplace and should be clearly outlined in the contract signed with the staffing agency. When each party knows where the responsibilities lie for safety training, then temp worker safety is greatly improved.
Tip #2 – Stay Informed
OSHA offers a number of useful educational safety resources for both employers and employees. There’s literature available on their website (start here) as well as information about their outreach training courses and their Training Institute Education Centers.
About half of the states in the U.S. – including Connecticut – also have what is called an OSHA-Approved State Plan, which can be another valuable resource for learning more about temp worker safety. You can find the CT State Plan web page here.
About half of the states in the U.S. – including Connecticut – also have what is called an OSHA-Approved State Plan, which can be another valuable resource for learning more about temp worker safety.
Tip #3 – Engage Your Temp Workers
Employees also play a critical role in workplace safety, which is why employers should regularly encourage their workers to be their own advocate when it comes to their on-the-job health and wellbeing.
Remind employees to always be aware and engaged on the job by following the daily safety measures for their work environment. They should keep a clean work area, be mindful of their immediate surroundings and always wear required safety equipment (goggles, gloves, foot protection, etc.)
Employees should also be encouraged to offer suggestions that will help enhance their safety – and they should always voice any safety concerns they have. Not speaking up about a potential problem could be tragic.
Keeping your industrial workers safe on the job is of extreme importance to 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.