Dec 01, 2013

OSHA Asked to Further Improve Temp Worker Protections

During a November 2, 2013 forum, a coalition of workplace safety groups urged OSHA to further improve safety and health condition protections for temporary workers. OSHA Assistant Secretary, Dr. David Michaels, was presented with 15 recommendations that ranged from compelling OSHA inspectors to learn how temp workers were trained to requiring employers to provide rosters of workers to OSHA investigators for interview selection purposes.

The recommendations ask that OSHA create a National Emphasis Program in high-hazard industries that have a high concentration of temporary workers, including construction, manufacturing, warehousing, healthcare and transportation.

With an increased reliance on flexible labor by companies, with temp help accounting for 15 percent of job growth nationally over the past four years, it is important to assure worker safety.

Recommendations for OSHA:

  1. OSHA should set forth a clear statement of the joint responsibilities of host employers and temporary staffing agencies in complying with OSHA regulations.
  2. OSHA should draft a written policy specifying health and safety training requirements for temporary staffing agencies.
  3. OSHA should initiate a National Emphasis Program in high-hazard industries that use temporary staffing agencies.
  4. OSHA should identify the 20 largest temporary staffing agencies in the high-hazard industries, along with repeat offenders to put together a profile of these agencies.
  5. Temporary staffing agencies should be included as part of OSHA’s data initiative so that injury/illness rates are more accurately tracked.
  6. All recommended policies and procedures should also be incorporated into the OSHA Field Operations Manual.
  7. OSHA should provide consistent training to compliance officers.
  8. If OSHA opens an investigation of a worksite employer, it should be standard practice to also investigate if each engaged temporary staffing agency engaged provided proper training in compliance with hazard standards.
  9. OSHA should request and be provided a list of all temporary staffing agencies that have placed workers at the facility, including contact information.
  10. Employers should be compelled to share with OSHA documents they are providing to workers to determine if they provided essential safety training.
  11. Employers on the day of OSHA investigations should be required to provide a roster of all workers employed and their job titles, so that OSHA can select whom to interview.
  12. OSHA should include an inquiry as to whether health and safety deficiencies are restricted to one worksite branch or are present in multiple branches.
  13. At OSHA’s initiation of worksite inspection, a notice should be issued to temporary staffing agencies informing that retaliation and intimidation are prohibited.
  14. At an investigation of a worksite, OSHA should distribute an information card in the language of the workers informing them of OSHA’s role, and their protections and rights.
  15. OSHA should partner with non-profit organizations and invite them to discussions with temporary workers offsite. The protocol language for investigators should proactively explaining to workers that if they are not comfortable speaking directly to investigators, a worker center or other organization has offered to meet offsite. 
“Temp workers fall through the cracks. From a public health perspective, we need to know where they’re working, who’s injured on the job and how – so we can improve working conditions.” ~Linda Delp, Director of the UCLA Labor Occupational Safety and Health Program