July 21, 2022

Document Highlights Best Practices for Protecting Temporary Workers

A new document intended as a resource to help host employers protect the health and safety of temporary workers has been released by NIOSH and several partner organizations. Temporary workers, the agency states, “are those who are paid by a staffing company and assigned to work for a host employer company, including both short- and long-term assignments.” OSHA holds host employers responsible to safeguard all temporary and permanent workers.

“Unsafe working conditions, unclear job assignments, inadequate training, and poor hazard communication put all workers, both temporary and permanent, at risk for injury and illness on the job,” NIOSH says. The new document provides host employers with best practices for protecting temporary workers, organized into three categories: evaluation and contracting; training for temporary workers and their work site supervisors; and injury and illness reporting, response, and recordkeeping. Real-life scenarios providing examples of recommended practices and a checklist are included in the document to guide host employers on implementing these strategies. NIOSH’s website also offers a free slide deck as a tool for staffing companies to use to educate their clients.

These resources build on efforts by OSHA’s Temporary Worker Initiative, launched in 2013. NIOSH’s partners for this project include the National Occupational Research Agenda Services Sector Council, the American Society of Safety Professionals, the American Staffing Association (ASA), and the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries’ Safety and Health Assessment and Research for Prevention program. The partnership between NIOSH and ASA was announced in July 21 as an effort to “encourage staffing companies and host employers to develop and utilize safety and health management programs and effective prevention strategies and technologies” and will remain in effect through January 2025.

Related:The Dual-Employer Relationship,” a feature article published in the February 2019 issue of The Synergist, reviews guidance from both federal OSHA and the state of California that clarifies that temp agencies and host employers are jointly responsible for the health and safety of temporary workers.