OSHA aims to be sure work safety extends to temporary staff, too

On Behalf of | May 8, 2013 | Workplace Injuries

It may be a widely held notion that the United States is something of a classless society. Most anyone in Pennsylvania with any real life experience would be likely to pooh-pooh that idea as nothing more than a myth. It’s pretty obvious that there are divisions of society along economic strata. Otherwise, there would never have been an “Occupy Whatever” movement.

Separations are even evident in the labor force. One rough way of viewing the divisions would be along methods of pay. Salaried workers might get top billing by some people’s measure. They might be followed by full-time wage earners. Then would likely be the part-time waged workers. We mustn’t forget about the temporary workers, either. 

One thing that should bind all these strata together, however, is the universal obligation of employers to keep them safe from preventable workplace injuries by providing appropriate safety and training.

This has apparently been lacking in some quarters, if a directive from the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration is any gauge. Just within the last couple of weeks, OSHA sent out a memo to its regional officials outlining new guidelines aimed at making sure that temp staff workers are getting as much workplace safety attention as all other workers.

Among the specific steps the officials are supposed to take as they begin to inspect worksites where temporary workers are employed is whether the workers are in conditions that are outlawed by existing rules. They’re also supposed to find out if the workers have received the appropriate health and safety training they need in a language and format they can understand. The officials issuing the orders say they are needed because of a spike of such violations from recent inspections.

The memo takes particular pains to state that the guidelines apply to all temporary workers. Not just those hired directly by an employer, but also those supplied to a business by a temporary staffing agency.

OSHA says the new guidelines are just one part of an overall initiative aimed at making sure that it is doing all it can to be sure that temporary workers are protected from workplace hazards.

Source: Bloomberg BNA, “New OSHA Enforcement Initiative Focuses On Temporary Staffing Agency Workers,” Bruce Rolfsen, May 2, 2013