By Benjamin D. Briggs, Adam R. YoungA. Scott Hecker, Patrick D. Joyce, and Craig B. Simonsen

Seyfarth Synopsis: The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has released a new set of best practices to assist host employers in better protecting the safety and health of temporary workers.

Since 2013, Federal OSHA has maintained  a Temporary Worker Initiative, devoting  inspection resources towards temporary workers and staffing agencies. OSHA regularly cites multiple companies—including host employers—under this Multi-Employer Worksite Doctrine for alleged hazards faced by temporary employers.

Now NIOSH, a federal agency which lacks an enforcement arm, has put forward temporary worker guidance. According to NIOSH, its guidance addresses temporary workers who are paid by a staffing company and assigned to a host employer, including for both short- and long-term assignments. NIOSH explains that “the risk of experiencing a work-related injury may be higher for temporary workers than for non-temporary workers.”

NIOSH—in partnership the American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP), the American Staffing Association (ASA), and the Safety and Health Assessment and Research for Prevention (SHARP) program within the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries—developed a set of best practices to help host employers optimize their efforts to protect the safety and health of temporary workers.

The best practices were organized into three sections:

  • Evaluation and contracting;
  • Training for temporary workers and their worksite supervisors; and
  • Injury and illness reporting, response, and recordkeeping.

NIOSH has also prepared a series of checklists for each of the three sections that can be printed or completed electronically. In addition, there is also a slide deck for staffing companies to use to educate their host employer clients about the best practices contained in the document.  These materials are educational and non-mandatory.

Enforcement of safety rules and a strong safety culture are essential to workplace safety and preserving the company’s defenses to an OSHA citation. As part of an OSHA accident inspection, the Agency likely will review the employer’s policy documents and training materials, and will likely interview temporary workers about their training and understanding of safety hazards.

We have blogged before on this topic. See, for instance, OSHA Focuses on Temporary Worker Employer Responsibilities and Guidance, OSHA Releases Two New Temporary Worker Guidance Documents, OSHA Releases Two New Temporary Worker Guidance Documents, New Guidance for ‘Recommended Practices’ to Protect Temporary Workers, OSHA Issues Memo to ‘Remind’ its Field Staff about Enforcement Policy on Temporary Workers, and OSHRC Reviews Employment Relationships. For more information on this or any related topics, please contact the authors, your Seyfarth attorney, or any member of the Workplace Safety and Health (OSHA/MSHA) Group.