New OSHA Enforcement Focuses on Temporary Workers
On April 29, 2013, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a memorandum to its regional administrators advising them of a new effort using enforcement, outreach and training to protect temporary workers from workplace hazards. The guidance is the result of a series of reports of temporary workers suffering fatal injuries during the first days on the job.
The memo advises regional administrators to direct compliance safety and health officers (CSHOs) to first determine, within the scope of their inspections whether any employees are temporary workers and whether any of the identified temporary employees are exposed to a violative condition.” Second, CHSOs “should assess – using records review and interviews – whether those workers have in fact received required training in a language and vocabulary they understand.” For purposes of this information gathering, OSHA is focused on temporary workers supplied and paid by a staffing (or “temp”) agency. An OSHA official confirmed to AGC in a recent conversation that the effort is not intended to cover directly hired temporary employees or employees managed by a professional employer organization (“PEO”).
Within OSHA’s Information System, the directive instructs CHSOs to flag worksites where any temporary employees are exposed to violative conditions. In addition, inspectors are now required to capture the name of the workers’ staffing agency, the agency’s location, and the extent to which the temporary workers are being supervised on a day-to-day basis by either the host employer or the staffing agency.
As a result of this new enforcement directive, construction contractors that use staffing agencies to supply temporary workers are advised to follow the guidelines outlined in the directive and document training provided to both temporary and regular workers. Employers should also evaluate the supervising structure under which temporary workers report in order to avoid any potential co-employer liability issues.
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