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The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced an initiative to focus more on the safety and health of temporary workers after recent high-profile temp worker fatalities.
Assistant Secretary of Labor David Michaels made the announcement April 29, 2013, at the Department of Labor’s 2013 Workers’ Memorial Day ceremony, held in Washington, D.C.
“On Workers’ Memorial Day we mourn the loss of the thousands of workers who die each year on the job from preventable hazards,” said Michaels. “Many of those killed and injured are temporary workers who often perform the most dangerous jobs, have limited English proficiency and are not receiving the training and protective measures required. Workers must be safe, whether they’ve been on the job for one day or for 25 years.”
OSHA released a memorandum that same day to its regional administrators, directing field inspectors to make a “concerted effort using enforcement, outreach and training to assure that temporary workers are protected from workplace hazards.”
The memo, written by enforcement director Thomas Galassi, said the agency has recently received “a series of reports of temporary workers suffering fatal injuries during the first days on a job.” It specifically mentions Bacardi Bottling Corp., which was recently cited after a 21-year-old temporary worker died on his first day on the job.
The memo outlines new checks inspectors should make during worksite inspections, including determining whether any temporary workers are employed, whether the workers are exposed to conditions in violation of OSHA rules, and whether the workers received safety and health training “in a language and vocabulary they understand.”
Inspectors should ascertain this information through record reviews and interviews.
If inspectors do find temporary workers, the memo directs them to “document the name of the temporary workers’ staffing agency, the agency’s location and the supervising structure under which the temporary workers are reporting (i.e., the extent to which the temporary workers are being supervised on a day-to-day basis, either by the host employer or the staffing agency).”
A new OSHA Information System code has been created to document temporary workers’ exposure to health and safety hazards.
Roy Maurer is an online editor/manager for SHRM.
Follow him on Twitter @SHRMRoy.
Safety for Temporary Employees: Whose Job Is It?, SHRM Online Safety & Security, March 2013
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