According to the American Staffing Association, there are roughly 17
million temporary and contract workers in the United States. With temporary
workers making up a large portion of the workforce, it’s imperative that
their health and safety be made a priority. It is the joint-responsibility
of staffing agencies and host employers to provide the proper safety
training and working conditions for temporary employees.
The Importance of Temporary Worker Safety
Temporary workers are often utilized for hazardous jobs. The Occupational
Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has found that temporary workers
are at a greater risk of workplace illness and injury than permanent
A number of factors contribute to this higher rate of injuries and
illnesses among temporary workers, including:
Insufficient training for the hazards of the job
Quick turnover among temporary workers
Decreased access to safety equipment
- Inferior working conditions in some situations
- Fear of reporting unsafe working conditions and hazards because of
perceived job instability
By law, staffing agencies and host employers are equally responsible for
the health and safety of their temporary workers. Accordingly, both
staffing agencies and host employers should take steps to protect temporary
How to Protect Temporary Workers
OSHA and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)
created a set of recommendations for host employers and staffing agencies
to follow. To protect your temporary workers, consider the following action
Be able to identify hazards.
It’s important for staffing agencies to be familiarized with workplace
safety hazards. Being able to identify the hazards of a work-site can
give the staffing agency a better idea of what competencies will be
required of the temporary workers.
Evaluate the worksite
. A walk-through can help the staffing agency identify and potentially
remove any hazards found on the work-site that could lead to injury. If
a hazard cannot be removed, the hazard should be mitigated and proper
training procedures should be established. It’s necessary that agencies
communicate this workplace safety analysis to the host employer to
ensure safe working conditions for temporary workers. Host employers
should accommodate these recommendations in order to maintain a safe
Create a clear contract.
The contract between the staffing agency and the host employer should
clearly state who is held responsible for the health and safety of the
temporary worker. Although having one party responsible may help with
implementation, both parties can be held equally responsible for the
safety of the temporary worker if an injury was to occur.
Establish an injury and illness prevention program.
Injury and illness prevention programs are implemented to reduce the
severity and recurrence of workplace injury and illness. These
prevention programs are useful for employers to address new hazards on
an ongoing basis and adjust worker safety training accordingly. Any
time a new temporary worker is hired, or a new project begins, the
identified hazards and necessary training procedures should be
Conduct the proper safety training.
Staffing agencies and host employers are both held responsible for the
proper training of temporary workers. While the host employer should
provide an in-depth training catered to the temporary worker’s specific
job requirements, staffing agencies should also provide general safety
Communicate with your temporary workers.
Staffing agencies should frequently communicate with temporary workers
to ensure they feel safe at their work-site and are aware of their right
to report any safety concerns. As such, host employers should train
temporary workers on how to properly report any potential workplace
safety hazards. Staffing agencies have a duty to follow-up with the
host employer and work to resolve any safety concerns brought to their
For more guidance on workplace health and safety, contact Robertson
Insurance & Risk Management today.