OSHA says temporary workers must have proper safety training

Q&A with Elizabeth Bowersox

published in The Oklahoman | May 20, 2014

With summer quickly approaching, some employers may be looking to staff up with students and other temporary employees to handle seasonal work and other short-term projects. Those who do, though, should be aware of a new initiative by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to ensure the safety of such temporary workers.

Labor and employment attorney Elizabeth Bowersox was interviewed by The Oklahoman about OSHA’s concerns. She said it stems from the fact that the federal agency has received and investigated numerous reports of temporary workers suffering serious or fatal injuries, often within their first week on the job.

“According to OSHA, the best way to ensure the safety of temporary works is to make sure they receive the same training and protection that existing workers receive.”

To this end, the agency’s new “Temporary Worker Initiative” combines outreach, training and enforcement, and imposes recordkeeping requirements on employers. In instances where a “temp” is provided by a staffing agency, OSHA requires both the agency and the “host employer” to work together to ensure worker safety. “The staffing agency should maintain frequent communication with the temporary workers and host employers so that it may be alerted to existing workplace hazards and to any protective measures that may need to be provided to its workers,” she said.