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November 12, 2013
Groups seek improvement in protection for temp workers

Safety and health advocates are working to improve protection for temporary workers, whom they call “among our most vulnerable of employees.” Keep reading to see who’s affected and what it might mean for you.

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OSHA announced an initiative last spring to ensure that temporary workers are not left out when it comes to safety and health protection. But a coalition that includes unions and safety advocacy groups says more needs to be done.

The coalition has proposed a list of recommendations “to ensure that there is a clear, shared understanding of procedures and to promote collaborative efforts to protect temporary workers.”

They have asked that OSHA:

  • Clarify health and safety responsibilities in dual-employer settings (host employers and temporary staffing agencies);
  • Create a written policy specifying training requirements for temporary staffing agencies, including educating workers about their rights under OSHA;
  • Initiate a National Emphasis Program in high-hazard industries that use temporary staffing agencies;
  • Identify the 20 largest temp agencies in high-hazard industries and repeat offenders so that OSHA can investigate whether each agency provided proper training in compliance;
  • Require employers to provide the names and job titles of all workers employed the day of an investigation so OSHA can select those it wishes to interview;
  • Send a notice to the temporary staffing agency when OSHA initiates an inspection explaining that retaliation and intimidation are prohibited; and
  • Partner with nonprofit organizations and host discussions with temporary workers off-site.

OSHA’s temporary worker initiative

Last spring, OSHA directed field inspectors to assess whether employers who use temps are complying with their duties under the OSH Act. The agency created a new code in its information system to identify when these workers are exposed to safety and health violations.

OSHA personnel were also directed to assess whether temporary workers received required training in a language they could understand.

OSHA’s effort was in response to a growing number of reports of fatalities among temporary workers, many during their first days on the job.

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