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Joint Responsibility: OSHA™s Initiative to Protect Temporary Workers

There is a general belief that the staffing agency is ultimately responsible and holds the majority of risk when temporary workers are injured on the job.  In recent publications OSHA has said that companies that hire temporary workers “will be held directly responsible for the safety training and supervision of temporary employees.”

However, did you know that OSHA also has said when it comes to protecting temporary workers " both host employers and staffing agencies have roles?

According to David Michaels, PhD, MPH, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, “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.”

What does OSHA mean by joint responsibility?

OSHA provides an example of joint responsibility as ensuring that OSHA™s training, hazard communication, and recordkeeping requirements are fulfilled. OSHA goes on to say:

OSHA could hold both the host and temporary employers responsible for the violative condition(s) " and that can include lack of adequate training regarding workplace hazards. Temporary staffing agencies and host employers share control over the worker, and are therefore jointly responsible for temporary workers™ safety and health

Why does OSHA feel joint responsibility is necessary?

OSHA provides the following concerns and/or reasons why joint responsibility is necessary:

  • Some employers may use temporary workers as a way to avoid meeting all their compliance obligations under the OSH Act and other worker protection laws;
  • Temporary workers get placed in a variety of jobs, including the most hazardous jobs;
  • Temporary workers are more vulnerable to workplace safety and health hazards and retaliation than workers in traditional employment relationships;
  • Temporary workers are often not given adequate safety and health training or explanations of their duties by either the temporary staffing agency or the host employer.

OSHA goes on to say that a “key concept is that each employer should consider the hazards it is in a position to prevent and correct, and in a position to comply with OSHA standards.”

Finally, OSHA states that, just as important: “Host employers must treat temporary workers like any other workers in terms of training and safety and health protections.”

Who should be considered a Temporary Employee?

Obviously temporary employees are those you hire from temp agencies, but you must also consider other individuals who may be in your practice as temporary employees.  According to the US Dept. of Labor, temporary employees may be hired to:

  • Fill short-term position that is not expected to last more than one year;
  • Meet an employment need that is scheduled to be terminated within one or more years for reasons as the completion of a specific project or peak workload; or
  • Fill positions that involve intermittent (irregular) or seasonal (recurring annually) work schedules.
    A temporary employee does not serve a probationary period and is not eligible for promotion, reassignment, or transfer to other jobs.

In your organization these individuals might include: clinical and non-clinical employees, students who are shadowing the providers, interns, externs, IT support etc.

How can we help you ensure compliance with OSHA™s initiative to protect temporary workers?

Healthcare Compliance Pros™ OSHA training module helps you fulfill OSHA requirements and provides your organization policies and procedures for all employees " existing or temporary.  You can provide the HCP OSHA training for temporary employees in a variety of ways:

  • To ensure temporary workers are trained, you may choose to assign a seat that is designated specifically for temporary workers, (contact your Client Relations Specialist for details); or
  • Consider printing out your OSHA training which includes organization specific policies and procedures and require all temporary workers to read and acknowledge their understanding.

Because OSHA has an initiative to protect temporary workers and “host employers need to treat temporary workers as they treat existing employees,” we highly recommend temporary workers who have already received OSHA training from their agency should also receive training on your organization™s specific OSHA policies and procedures using your customized HCP OSHA training.  Not only will this ensure compliance with OSHA recommendations, but it is a good way to ensure that all workers " including temporary workers " have received specific training tailored to the particular workplace hazards.

If you have any questions about OSHA policies and procedures, need help developing policies and procedures, or have any other compliance questions, please feel free to comment below or send us an email at [email protected] or reach us by phone toll-free at 855-427-0427

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