By James L. Curtis and Craig B. Simonsen

Seyfarth Synopsis: OSHA has just updated its “Protecting Temporary Workers” website, for staffing agencies and their clients (i.e., host employers). The page reminds these employers that they are jointly responsible for a  temporary employee’s safety and health .

We have blogged previously about OSHA’s enforcement activities and guidance documents relating to temporary workers: OSHA Releases Two More 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.

OSHA has released a Temporary Workers’ Rights Pamphlet (TWI Pamphlet) and a Temporary Worker Initiative pamphlet on “Safety and Health in Shipyard Employment.” The TWI Pamphlet is a small handout card that reminds staffing agency employees that they “have the same rights as permanent workers.” The second TWI pamphlet, on Safety and Health in Shipyard Employment, is a ten page summary of staffing employee safety law, rules, and policy for shipyard employers and workers.

Employer Takeaway

It is OSHA’s view that staffing agencies and host employers are “jointly responsible” for temporary workers’ safety and health. As these two newly published bulletin’s make clear, fulfilling the shared responsibility for temporary worker safety requires thoughtful coordination between staffing agencies and host employers. OSHA has previously acknowledged that a host employer may have more knowledge of the specific hazards associated with the host worksite, while the staffing agency has a more generalized safety responsibility to the employees. As a result, OSHA allows host employers and staffing agencies to divide training responsibilities based upon their respective knowledge of the hazards associated with the specific worksite. While host employers will typically have primary responsibility for training and communication regarding site specific hazards, staffing agencies must make reasonable inquiries to verify that the host employer is meeting these requirements.

For more information on this or any related topic please contact the authors, your Seyfarth attorney, or any member of the Workplace Safety and Health (OSHA/MSHA) Team.