OSHA, Staffing Industry Come Together on Safety

By Roy Maurer May 23, 2014

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) signed an alliance with the American Staffing Association (ASA) May 21, 2014, announcing their intentions to help keep temporary workers safe from workplace hazards.

“We want to make sure that at the end of every work shift, all temporary workers in the United States are able to go home safely to their families,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health David Michaels at the announcement. “Through this alliance with the ASA, we will increase outreach to staffing agencies and host employers and provide information and education that is vital to protecting temporary workers.”

The partners will work together to conduct outreach to workers, educate staffing firms and their clients on their responsibilities to protect workers under the Occupational Safety and Health Act, and develop ways of communicating OSHA guidance and additional information to staffing firms, host employers and temporary workers.

“We are proud to participate in this voluntary cooperative relationship with OSHA to raise awareness of OSHA’s initiatives, increase training and education, and enhance outreach and communication, especially among staffing clients,” said ASA President and CEO Richard Wahlquist at the announcement.

Tom Marrero, the national safety director for construction staffing firm Tradesmen International, reported to OSHA’s Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health (ACCSH) the outcome of a meeting held May 7, 2014, with the ACCSH, ASA and three construction staffing firms, including Tradesmen.

While supportive of OSHA’s temporary worker initiative, ASA feels “that OSHA should do more to educate host employers and that the best practices listed on the OSHA website do not always reflect feasible or practical solutions” for the construction industry, Marrero said.

The ASA raised concerns that OSHA inspectors have not been given clear guidance on how to conduct investigations involving temporary workers and staffing agencies, leading to the proposal of a separate guidance specific to the construction industry. “Guidance [on temporary workers] is being put together, and we will look into whether a separate guidance is needed for construction,” responded Dean McKenzie, OSHA’s deputy director for construction.

“A consensus within the construction staffing industry is that while there are many clients who understand their responsibility to worker safety as the host employer, there seems to be equal amounts that do not,” Marrero said.

All parties approved of OSHA’s recent bulletin clarifying who is responsible for recording injuries in the joint-employer relationship. The bulletin, the first in a promised series under OSHA’s Temporary Worker Initiative, makes clear that in most cases, the host employer is the one responsible for recording the injuries and illnesses of temporary workers. Future bulletins may address the responsibilities of the host employer; the rights and responsibilities of temporary workers; and the duties of staffing agencies.

Roy Maurer is an online editor/manager for SHRM.

Follow him @SHRMRoy

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