I write a fair amount about employers’ duties to ensure that their workers classified as “temporary employees” be treated the same with regard to safety as their full time or so-called “permanent” employees. Hazards do not distinguish between an employee’s status. A fall hazard or unguarded chain will harm a temporary employee as much as it will harm a full time employee. Therefore, employers should involve these non-routine employees in the same safety meetings and training as full time employees. Temps should receive the same PPE as full time employees. If the temps are present long enough, they must participate in hearing protection and respiratory protection programs. This approach combines common sense, ethics and OSHA compliance.
On July 15, 2014, Thomas Galassi, OSHA’s Director of Enforcement Programs, released a memorandum addressed to all OSHA regional administrators regarding OSHA’s Temporary Worker Initiative—a program developed to increase the agency’s focus on the safety of temporary workers. The purpose of the memo was to clarify the responsibilities of staffing agencies and host employees and to remind OSHA field staff of the enforcement policy with respect to temporary workers.
The theory is that the contractors are under such competitive pressure that they will ignore OSHA requirements and will fail to pay for all hours worked or for overtime premiums. The assumption is that part of the reason manufacturers hand off certain functions is to escape liability for wage and safety violations. Moreover, critics believe that temporary and other non-traditional employees receive inadequate supervision and safety training.
I support OSHA’s temporary worker focus. Employers need to take more steps to ensure that temporary employees don’t fall through the cracks and do not receive adequate safety training.