Safety 2014 Session on Temp Worker Safety Brings Up Many Issues

Participants in a Safety 2014 breakout session discussed many issues, from training to disciplinary action and background checks, involved in employing temporary manufacturing workers.

ORLANDO -- A June 10 breakout session at the Safety 2014 conference covered the challenges and successes facing those who deal with the safety of temporary workers manufacturing. The roundtable session, led by Michael T. Coleman of Tyson Foods, featured about 25 people from the manufacturing sector who discussed challenges, successes, and changes they have seen recently.

The roundtable discussion began with participants brainstorming topics that would be discussed for the next hour. Participants covered best practices, differing injury rates between temp and permanent workers, and temporary worker regulations in Canada and other countries. Some participants stressed the idea that "new is new"—temporary workers and new, full-time workers should be trained the same way in order to ensure all employees are safe and healthy.

Another topic of discussion was the idea of screening candidates once they have been selected by a temp agency, as well as screening the agency itself. Several participants in the discussion who had screened temp agencies said they had to weed out several in order to find the one or two that provided high-quality, safe, and reliable workers. Another discussed a problem she had seen recently: companies that trained temps less because they didn't want them to get the mindset that they were full-time employees. This led to another discussion on co-employment.

Some participants stressed the importance of not creating a culture of treating temporary workers like "disposable" employees, because that can lead to a negative reputation for the company. The roundtable concluded by covering OSHA's initiative to protect temporary workers, discrimination rules, complacency, training needs analysis, the handling of drug/alcohol discipline, and background checks. 

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