Responsibilities employers have to protect temporary workers

During busy times of the year, it's not unusual for businesses in Kentucky to turn to a staffing agency to provide them with some extra workers for a limited period of time. In order to ensure that these temporary workers are protected, OSHA recommends that the staffing agency and the host employer clearly spell out specific responsibilities in their contract. Doing so may minimize the risk of confusion over an employer's obligations.

Typically, staffing agencies and host employers are jointly responsible for making sure that a safe work environment is maintained for temporary employees to minimize injury risks and workers' compensation issues. What this entails will depend on the nature of the job. For instance, in some situations, OSHA's hazard communication, training and record-keeping requirements would need to be implemented. However, OSHA may hold both the employer and staffing agency responsible for violations since temporary workers should have adequate training beforehand and know what potential hazards are involved with the job before they accept the temporary assignment.

Both employers and staffing agencies play a role in adhering to relevant OSHA requirements. For example, the staffing agency might provide general safety and hazard guidelines while the host employer would provide more detailed training specific to what applies to their workplace. Also, staffing agencies have to verify that an employer has taken reasonable steps to present a safe workplace, and the host employer has to extend the same training, safety and health protections to temporary workers as they would to regular full-time employees.

Ignorance of hazard risks on the part of the staffing agency or an employer isn't an excuse if an accident occurs due to unsafe working conditions or training oversights. An attorney handling a case of this nature may determine whether a staffing agency inquired into conditions at an assigned workplace. A lawyer might also look at an employer's history of OSHA violations and workplace safety incidents to determine if negligence may have been involved. Temporary workers are entitled to the same type of compensation as permanent workers for expenses related to medical care and an inability to work.

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