OSHA's Temporary Worker Initiative Outlined at Safety 2016

Robert Lewellen and Scott DeBow, CSP/ARM, together discussed temporary workers in health and safety and the relationship the American Staffing Association has with OSHA.

ATLANTA -- Robert Lewellen and Scott DeBow, CSP/ARM, gave a presentation at ASSE's Safety 2016 conference in which they discussed temporary workers in health and safety and the relationship the American Staffing Association has with OSHA.

According to the presenters, 17,000 staffing firms work to employ 14 million workers nationwide, making up 2 percent of the nation's workforce. OSHA was finding that temporary workers were getting injured or killed in the first days on the job at an alarming rate, so it developed the Temporary Worker Initiative (TWI).

Many employers use staffing agencies for flexibility in workforce requirements due to changes and uncertainty in production, as well as leverage the opportunity to achieve the "right fit" prior to hiring someone full time. The OSHA TWI provides a framework to begin discussions between a host employer and primary (staffing firm) employer to ensure clear understanding on the hazards presented in the work environment, training responsibility and capabilities, PPE, and communication methods to ensure consistency between both employers.

  • Enforce during inspections.
  • Commit to ensuring quality hazard assessment/abatement methods are in place for all employees and train managers in supervising a contingent workforce.
  • Agencies need to ensure workers are getting trained on specific job methods, PPE, and methods of hazard reporting.
  • Hosts need to identify hazards, provide site specific training, and clarify standard work procedures.

Temporary work incidents have been categorized in the hierarchy of controls, which are as follows, in order of importance: Elimination, Substitution, Engineering, Administrative, PPE. While they have different levels of importance, Lewellen and DeBow emphasized it was important to show the same devotion for all concepts listed.

Evaluations should be conducted on a case-by-case basis, and it is important to ensure both the staffing agency and host employers conduct their due diligence. Finally, they explained how the American Staffing Association is working with OSHA: The two parties meet regularly and have a quarterly call to try to ensure those who are working temporary jobs are safe.

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