OSHA Renews Focus on Temporary Worker Safety

To commemorate the annual ‘Workers’ Memorial Day,’ observed on April 28, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced a new initiative intended to focusing on protecting temporary employees from injuries and other workplace hazards.  OSHA field inspectors have been instructed to look closely at companies known to employ temporary workers, and make sure that employers are complying with all safety-related laws and regulations.

A new, separate code has been created in OSHA’s inspection system specifically to denote workplace health and safety violations that involve temporary workers.  And a new program has been established that will seek to encourage employers to better educate their temporary workers on laws, regulations, and their rights.  OSHA already began an initiative earlier in the year, in conjunction with the American Staffing Association to instruct the employers that use temp agencies in best practices with regard to safety.  Finally, OSHA will disseminate an assessment to temporary workers (using both terms and language understandable to them) to determine whether all regulations have been met.

“On Workers’ Memorial Day,” said assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health Dr. David 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.”
This renewed focus on the safety of temporary workers comes in the wake an increasing number of reports about temporary workers being killed—often within the first few days of work—on their assignments.  These reports chronicle mistakes made by employers and temporary employees alike that could have been remedied had either party had the power of more information.

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