OSHA’s New Recording Requirements for Temporary Workers | DCR Workforce Blog

OSHA’s New Recording Requirements for Temporary Workers

In 2013, the staffing industry in America employed 3 million temporary and contract workers. In an effort to ensure the safety of the growing population of temporary workers, OSHA has launched its Temporary Worker Initiative, using a 3 pronged approach of enforcement, outreach, and training to achieve its goals.

This new initiative makes both the staffing agency and host employer (as Primary and Secondary Employers) responsible for the safety and well-being of temp workers. As a first step, OSHA released an educational bulletin in March with important guidance on protecting temporary workers.  In the event of injury or illness, OSHA has stipulated recording requirements to clarify responsibilities of the staffing agency and host employer for recording the incident in its occupational injury and illness log and reporting the information to OSHA.

Improving Temp Worker Safety:

According to analysts, temporary workers prone to injury or worse when they report to new jobs, due to the following reasons:

  • Lack of Training and Experience: Some work places are hazardous in nature. When people are new on a job, they need training or time to observe other workers to learn the ropes. This makes every new worker on a job vulnerable, but by definition, temporary workers – who move from assignment to assignment –seldom receive the safety training provided to permanent workers, increasing their risk.
  • Communication Issues: Some workers engaged by hazardous industries may be immigrants with limited English language skills. They cannot absorb the contents of a hurried training on safety measures, due to difficulties with understanding the language. This is why OSHA has made it mandatory for employers to train workers in a language they can understand.
  • Lack of Protective Gear: Between the staffing agency and the host employer, the responsibility to provide a temporary worker with the necessary protective gear is sometimes not accepted by either, leaving the worker in the lurch.
  • “Do Not Return” Policy: Many host employers make a practice of asking injured workers who wish to report  injuries to not return to work. This results in workers voluntarily concealing any information about the lack of safety in the workplace.

Guidance on Recording Injuries and Illnesses:

Consider this scenario.  Many times, a staffing agency agrees to send workers to a host employer, along with a team lead to help with communication – as many of the workers cannot speak English well.

  • The team lead is meant to track the workers’ time and attendance, translate the host employer’s orders for them, and provide any required training and instructions on the job.
  • The work assignment and supervision are controlled by a supervisor employed by the host employer.
  • Assuming one of the workers was injured on the job on the second day, guidance from OSHA clearly states that it has to be recorded on the host  employer’s log.
  • The staffing agency need not enter it on its log, as the team lead accompanying the workers does not qualify as a supervisor.

The Duties of a Staffing Agency:

OSHA requires staffing agencies to describe work conditions and environment in contractual agreements with every contract worker.  In addition, OSHA expects staffing agencies to stay connected to the workers they assign to a client’s workplace. Information about any injury or illnesses related to workplace conditions is expected to be shared between the agency and the host employer. The staffing agency is expected to address any safety issue with the host employer and ensure the protection of the workers. The host employer is also expected to report any incident to the staffing agency. Both the staffing agency and the host employer are forbidden to retaliate against any worker who reports unsafe work conditions.

OSHA upholds the rights of workers to a safe workplace and will prosecute any industry or business which fails to provide it to them. We shall bring you more updates, as OSHA continues its efforts towards this initiative.

The content on this blog is for informational purposes only and cannot be construed as specific legal advice or as a substitute for competent legal advice. They reflect the opinions of DCR Workforce and may not reflect the opinions of any individual attorney. Do contact an attorney for advice specific to your issue or problem.
Lalita is a people/project manager with extensive experience in operations, HCM and training and development across industries like banking, education, business consulting, BPO and information technology. She believes in a dynamic approach to life and learning as change is the only constant.