Can you answer YES to the following questions about workplace safety?
- Does your company pride itself on keeping your workers safe?
- Are you committed to implementing safe workplace practices, implementing training and decreasing your workers’ compensation costs?
- Do you make sure that ALL of your staff, including your contingent staff, are part of your safety programs?
If you are like most companies, you easily answered yes to the first two questions, but hesitated before answering the last question. You may assume that your staffing partner has provided safety training to the individuals that are working in your facility. If this is your assumption, you are both right and wrong.
OSHA has stepped up its enforcement associated with the 2013 Temporary Worker Initiative to protect temporary employees from workplace hazards. Penalties for workplace violations have ranged from $700 up to $60,000 depending on the number and severity of violations identified during the on-site inspection. OSHA has emphasized that temporary workers must receive the same protection as other employees covered under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, and should receive the same safety and hazard recognition training that all permanent employees receive.
As your staffing expert in Southeastern Wisconsin, we can assure you we are committed to providing basic safety training to our employees that we send to your business. We have discussed things like PPE, lifting guidelines and basic workplace safety guidelines. But every business is different, and your safety-related practices and protocols that are specific to your business cannot possibly be shared in detail by us as your staffing partner. While our employees are our responsibility, we share the responsibility for a safe workplace with our clients.
The driving force behind this OSHA initiative was the high number of temporary workers that were severely injured or killed on the job. Moving forward, when OSHA inspects a client facility, the inspectors are directed to determine if temporary workers are being utilized and if they are exposed to workplace hazards. Below are a few excerpts related to the initiative for OSHA from Dr. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of the United States Department of Labor.
Here are some things to consider to help keep all of your workers safe:
Consideration 1: Include Your Contingent Workforce in Your Safety Training
Any time your company reviews safety practices, your contingent workers should be included. If there is a change in your safety protocol, your contingent workers should be included in the training. Not only is it important for their OWN safety, it is also important to the people working around them. Dr Michaels commented that
- Staffing agencies and their client companies who host temporary workers share the legal obligation to provide workplaces free of recognized hazards. This includes providing required, documented safety training in a language and vocabulary workers can understand.
- OSHA inspectors will determine, in every inspection, if every temporary worker on the site has received the safety training and protection required by law for the job. If they haven’t, OSHA will hold their employer accountable.
- OSHA expects that documentation is maintained by the EMPLOYER for all safety related issues, including documenting any temporary employees’ workplace injuries on their OSHA 300 log. It is not the responsibility of the staffing company to record injuries on this log.
Consideration 2: Keep Your Safety Standards the Same for Everyone
According to OSHA, “staffing agencies and host employers are jointly responsible for maintaining a safe work environment for temporary workers.” This means that what applies to your own employees applies to your contingent employees as well. Dr. Michaels noted that “common temporary staffing violations that are being identified are: failure to conduct a hazard assessment of the workplace, undocumented training that occurs by the staffing agency and host employer, exposure to chemical hazards, unguarded machinery, and/or lockout/tag out violations.”
Consideration 3: Spell It Out in a Job Description
Be sure to provide your staffing partner with an adequate job description that correctly outlines job duties, including physical requirements. Too often, employers do not want to share these job descriptions and end up frustrated when an employee is not able to complete the work. Job descriptions are vital in making sure that an employee is capable of safely doing the job. In addition, most staffing firms function under strict workers’ compensation guidelines. Sometimes, they are not able to fill specific orders and complete specific tasks because their insurance simply will not allow it.
Consideration 4: Be Open to Feedback
If a temporary worker reports a safety concern to you, listen and act on the report just as you would if it were your own employee. In addition, report the concern and your response to your contact at the staffing company so they can properly document and follow up with their employee.
Workplace safety is everyone’s obligation. Our goal, as always, is to provide workforce solutions to our clients and opportunities for our employees that are mutually beneficial and, above all, safe and meaningful. Dr. Michaels states, “Whether temporary or permanent, all workers always have a right to a safe and healthy workplace.” We concur.
An award-winning staffing expert in Southeastern Wisconsin in manufacturing, clerical, professional and light industrial placements, Nissen Staffing Continuum is proud of our commitment to safety. As your strategic partner, we’ll help you take your staffing initiatives to the next level, whether it’s onsite programs, direct hire placement, temp-to-hire programs or temporary staffing. Our recruiters are supported by a full-time sourcing department dedicated to finding great employees for our clients. For more information about how we can help you find great employees, contact us today and allow us to help you with your HR needs so you can focus on your company’s success!