Safety Recommendations & Some Best Practices | DCR Workforce Blog

Safety Recommendations & Some Best Practices

National Safety Council(NSC)Most of you can say that, over the past few weeks, friends and colleagues have wished you a “happy and healthy New Year”. Add the National Safety Council (NSC) to your list of well-wishers. In a recent development, the NSC has urged staffing agencies and their clients to share responsibility and take joint actions to ensure the health and safety of temporary and contract workers. Recognizing that there are currently more than 17 million workers taking on temporary assignments, the non-profit organization has issued a list of recommendations for staffing buyers on how to ensure the safety of temporary workers.

The NSC recommends that employers:

  • Establish a policy which clearly states that all workers in all types of employment arrangements have equal rights to a safe and healthy workplace.
  • Develop and implement procedures to ensure that all workers, including temporary and contract workers, are provided a safe and healthy workplace, and that there is clarity on supervisory control.
  • Establish mandatory requirements for safety training based on the work environment and risks of job assignments. Training should be delivered by the contract worker’s employer (in the case of projects outsourced to third-party companies), staffing agency and/or host employer.
  • Gather and analyze appropriate information about temporary and contract workers to better understand any challenges to assuring their safety and health, and strategies that can be effective in further reducing risk.
  • Assure roles and responsibilities associated with accountability for worker safety are clearly understood and effectively executed.
  • Monitor trends in the use of temporary and contract workers in order to address changing needs for maintaining a safe and healthy workplace for all workers.

Safety statistics from almost every state in America show that temporary workers are at a higher risk of suffering injuries at the workplace. This is generally attributed to being new to the job. Temporary workers also frequently find that they are not provided with adequate training and safety gear before being placed in hazardous situations.

Workers do not have to be in “hazardous” environments involving hazardous chemicals, heavy machinery, tools and equipment to be at risk of injury. A worker is not protected from injury in climate-controlled office spaces, seated on comfortable chairs and working with computers.

Let’s add a few items to the NSC’s recommendations to employers that we believe increase the safety of the workplace.

  • Slipping, tripping and falling can cause disabling injuries. Cluttered offices and smooth floor surfaces can create a tripping hazard. Unsecured electrical wiring which is stretched across walkways and in work areas could also trip people up.
  • Office fires are another source of threat. Attention has to be paid to the overload on the system, and wear and tear on the power cords of the various electrical implements used in the office. Most office facilities have inconsistent HVAC systems, resulting in extreme temperature differences in different parts of the building. In cold weather, employees may use space heaters to increase the temperature of their work area. These can be dangerous. Establish and enforce policies regarding space heaters, fans, and other electrical devices supplied by employees.
  • Using inappropriate tools could result in injuries. Even something as innocuous as standing on an office chair, instead of a step ladder, to reach something at a height.
  • Blind corners may need convex mirrors to help avoid collisions.
  • Injuries can happen with falling objects, sharp edges, and opened drawers.
  • Keep the facility in good condition. Immediately address water leaks that can cause slipping accidents or increase the growth of mold.
  • If the workers are seated in front of a computer through the day, not providing an ergonomic workplace could lead to avoidable injuries. A computer monitor needs to be at eye level and the mouse needs to be placed right next to a keyboard. It is recommended to take a 10 minute break for every hour spent looking at the computer screen. Even when using a tablet or other hand-held device, injuries can occur after extended periods of sitting in an awkward position.
  • Establish evacuation procedures for temporary personnel. In most companies, individuals are assigned to ensure that permanent employees quickly evacuate the facility, and that all are accounted for. You must have a similar process for determining which contract workers are in a facility at any point and time, and for ensuring that all have been safely evacuated in the event of an emergency.

One final thought. A good way to ensure a safe working environment is to encourage all workers – permanent employees as well as those on temporary assignment – to report and escalate any early warning signs of a hazard. Establish regular, two-way safety communication with every individual working at your facilities. Establish a feedback system so that all workers know that their suggestions or observations have been addressed. Take steps to ensure that your safety updates have been acknowledged and incorporated into standard operating procedures.

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.