As an employer, you’re well aware the safety of your permanent workers is in your hands, but sometimes there’s a grey area surrounding temporary workers. Managed by a staffing firm, these professionals aren’t technically your employees, but they are working for your company, so you need to have a clear understanding of your responsibilities.
According to standards set by the Occupational Health & Safety Organization (OSHA), host employers and staffing firms are jointly responsible for worker safety. The Agency recommends outlining specific duties of each party in the contract, to keep everyone on the same page. This ensures there won’t be any miscommunications that could ultimately contribute to an accident and any subsequent confusion of liability.
OSHA Standards for Joint Liability
Under OSHA terms, employers and staffing agencies are jointly responsible for providing temporary employees with a safe work environment, including ensuring each person meets OSHA training, recordkeeping and hazard communication requirements. If these conditions are not met, both parties could be held responsible for violating OSHA standards.
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OSHA expects employers and staffing firms to work together to comply with OSHA requirements, because effective communication is needed to create a safe work environment. For example, staffing firms may provide temporary workers with standard health and safety training for the industry, but the employer is still expected to supplement this with knowledge specific to the job.
Employer Responsibilities vs. Staffing Firm Responsibilities
When it comes to training, safety and health matters, employers are not permitted to treat temporary workers differently than permanent staffers. As a host employer, companies have an obligation to keep every single person on the worksite safe. Simply being a permanent employee does not make one worker more valuable than another.
For their part, staffing firms are responsible for confirming they’re sending workers to safe worksites. Prior to placing an employee with a job, staffing professionals must assess all present and potential hazards associated with the work and create a plan to keep the person safe while on assignment. Recruiters are not required to become industry experts on specific worksite hazards, but merely citing ignorance of these risks is not tolerated by OSHA.
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