Safety by Design: Can a Staffing Firm Ensure Worker Safety for Contingent Workers? | DCR Workforce Blog

Safety by Design: Can a Staffing Firm Ensure Worker Safety for Contingent Workers?

Most of us have learned to put duty first; yet people managers must rise above such concerns and put workplace safety above jobs, tasks and service expectations. However, is everyone at work found equal in the eyes of the safety culture at a workplace? Or are full-time employees in an organization considered “more equal” than the temporary, contract or part-time workers? Take note because the writing is on the wall! As per law, exposing workers to crystalline silica and endangering their safety from other workplace hazards should be avoided whether they are temporary or permanent! If a staffing client fails to stay compliant, the staffing supplier who deployed the workers will face equal liability for such failure.

For the purpose of this post, I’ll discuss how a staffing company can take the necessary steps to evaluate a client’s safety management plan to ensure contingent worker safety when they’re deployed to work for a term with that organization.

Staffing firm best practices to ensure contingent worker safety

Staffing agencies hold joint responsibility (and liability) for providing needed training, ensuring that the worker has all needed safety equipment, explaining job duties to the worker, making workers aware of the workplace hazards specific to the worksite and steps to be taken to avoid accidents or incidents as well as maintaining accurate records of all incidents or accidents. Neither can plead ignorance as an excuse for lack of safety. Hence there is a need to assess the kind of hazards that may be encountered at the client’s worksite, with the need to ensure the protection of every worker.

There are a number of best practices that can be followed by a staffing supplier to ensure the contingent worker’s safety before deploying them to work with a client.

  1. At the outset, the staffing supplier could obtain a list of the tasks to be performed and evaluate the risks involved in executing them.
  2. Where needed, the contingent worker must be trained on the specific task being assigned, when it carries a threat perception when handled by someone lacking the required skills for its execution.
  3. The staffing supplier could then evaluate the safety program being followed by the client with special reference to their training plan for newly inducted contingent workers and the methods being used to impart it. To elaborate, the workers need to be trained in a language they are familiar with and may also need written instructions as well as warning signs and visual/pictorial representations when asked to handle a task rated high on potential for risk.
  4. The staffing supplier can ask for the safety statistics of the organization, its injury logs and look at the number of recordable incidents that happened at that workplace and the fatality rate, if any. If required, these numbers can be obtained for a historically relevant period of three to five years.
  5. If the workers are to be deployed at a sub-contractor’s site instead of at the client’s site, due efforts may be made to ascertain the safety standards of that work site too.
  6. Monitor the safety standards of the organization before as well as during the workers’ deployment, ask the workers to escalate any issues with their safety without any delay and act immediately to improve the work conditions and eliminate the unsafe practices, at any time during the tenure of the worker.
  7. Spare some time at the end of a contract, to discuss the workplace safety and conditions with the worker to evaluate the work conditions and make sure that the workplace followed safe practices.

Safe workplaces happen by design, not by accident

It’s an accepted fact that contingent workers are a vulnerable set of individuals whose training and safety orientation may be neglected due to a focus on saving time or costs or perhaps false expectations that they “know what they’re doing”. Insisting on safe workplaces is an important aspect of ensuring contingent worker safety and protecting all the stakeholders from liability for non-compliance with their duty towards contingent worker safety.

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.