When temporary workers are assigned by a staffing agency to a client (host employer), the agency and the client become joint employers, with shared responsibility for the conditions of employment as well as compliance with applicable laws. In this joint employment structure the temporary staffing agency and the host employer are both responsible for the health and safety of temporary workers.
In order to ensure that there is a clear understanding of each employer’s role in protecting temporary workers, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration recommends that the staffing agency and the host employer clearly identify and agree upon their respective responsibilities for compliance with applicable OSHA standards in their employment contract.
While the extent of legal responsibility of staffing agencies and host employers is dependent on the specific facts of each case, staffing agencies and host employers are jointly responsible for maintaining a safe work environment for their temporary workers. Providing adequate training regarding workplace hazards and fulfilling OSHA’s hazard communication and recordkeeping requirements are key aspects of this joint responsibility.
Both host employers and staffing agencies have important roles to fulfill in complying with workplace health and safety requirements. Each employer should consider the hazards it is in a position to prevent and/or correct to comply with OSHA standards. Staffing agencies are well positioned to provide general safety and health training, while host employers are better positioned to provide specific training tailored to their particular workplace environment and hazards.
Communication between staffing agencies and host employers is absolutely vital to ensure that necessary protections are provided to temporary workers. Agencies have a duty to inquire into the conditions of their workers’ assigned workplaces, and should be aware of any hazards that may be encountered and how best to ensure protection for temporary workers. It is also essential that host employers treat temporary workers the same as their permanent employees in terms of safety training and health protections.
Information regarding injuries and illnesses should flow between the host employer and staffing agency. As a best practice, the staffing agency and host employer should establish notification procedures to ensure that when a worker informs one employer of an injury or illness, the other employer is apprised as well. Policies and procedures for communication of injuries and illnesses and recordkeeping compliance should be clearly established in the employment contract.
OSHA is partnering with the American Staffing Association and major employers that work with staffing agencies to promote best practices to ensure that temporary workers are protected from job hazards. Additional information and resources are available at www.osha.gov/temp_workers.
About the OSHA Training Center
The OSHA Training Center at Chabot-Las Positas Community College District offers high quality Occupational Safety & Health Administration standards-based training for construction, maritime and general industry at its Center in Dublin, California, as well as locations throughout California, Arizona, Nevada, Hawaii and Guam. Programs offered include OSHA safety standards, Outreach Trainer courses, Cal/OSHA standards curriculum, environmental courses and customized onsite safety training. For more information, including a complete course schedule, visit the OSHA Training Center website or call (866) 936-OSHA (6742).