Take Temps' Safety Seriously, VPPPA31 Speakers Advise

"It is a serious issue. It's the number of serious violations that were found. It means that many employees were at risk of serious injury," Norman R. Deitch said.

GRAPEVINE, Texas -- Any safety professional who has been paying attention during 2015 knows that OSHA has been paying close attention to employers' use of temporary employees. Not in all sectors, granted, but in some of the industries that use contractors and temporary employees the most -- OSHA's looking at you, health care -- the pressure is higher.

Two speakers at the #VPPPA31 conference presented an outstanding session on ensuring temps' safety, and whether the staffing agencies or the host employer is responsible.

"Suffice it to say, OSHA is taking this issue very, very seriously," said Norman R. Deitch, OHST, senior vice president of Iselin, N.J.-based EHS Excellence Consulting. A former OSHA employee, he said OSHA's inspectors are using a newly created code to denote these companies' violations. His co-presenter was Brian Bennett, Ph.D., CSP, president of EHS Excellence Consulting. During FY2014, OSHA's inspectors conducted 944 inspections, 626 of which resulted in citations issued. Proposed penalties for all of the inspections totaled about $11.8 million, Deitch said.

"It is a serious issue. It's the number of serious violations that were found. It means that many employees were at risk of serious injury," Deitch said. He said electrical, machine guarding, and fall protection hazards were among the top violations cited.

Both host employers and temporary employee agencies--temp agencies--have been cited by OSHA this year; both are responsible for providing a safe work environment, he explained. Which party is in the best position to identify and correct hazards and to ensure OSHA compliance should be agreed upon in the contract, he said, adding that staffing companies have a duty to inquire about working conditions and to verify the host employer has fulfilled its responsibility to provide a safe work environment.

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