By A. Scott HeckerAdam R. YoungJames L. Curtis, Benjamin D. Briggs, and Craig B. Simonsen

Seyfarth Synopsis: OSHA is highlighting those employed through staffing agencies, generally called temporary or supplied workers, on its homepage. “Temporary workers” are workers supplied to a host employer and paid by a staffing agency, whether or not the job is actually temporary.

OSHA asserts the staffing agency and the staffing agency’s client (the host employer) are “joint employers” of temporary workers and, therefore, “both are responsible for providing and maintaining a safe work environment for those workers.” OSHA notes that it could hold both the host and temporary employers “responsible for the violative condition(s) – and that can include lack of adequate training regarding workplace hazards.”

Employer Takeaway

We have blogged previously about OSHA’s enforcement activities and guidance documents relating to temporary workers: OSHA Releases Two New Temporary Worker Guidance DocumentsOSHA Releases Two More Temporary Worker Guidance DocumentsNew Guidance for ‘Recommended Practices’ to Protect Temporary WorkersOSHA Issues Memo to ‘Remind’ its Field Staff about Enforcement Policy on Temporary Workers, and OSHRC Reviews Employment Relationships.

It is OSHA’s view that staffing agencies and host employers are “jointly responsible” for temporary workers’ safety and health. As these blogs make clear, fulfilling the shared responsibility for temporary worker safety requires thoughtful coordination between staffing agencies and host employers. OSHA has previously acknowledged that a host employer may have more knowledge of the specific hazards associated with the host worksite, while the staffing agency has a more generalized safety responsibility to the employees. As a result, OSHA allows host employers and staffing agencies to divide training responsibilities based upon their respective knowledge of the hazards associated with the specific worksite. While host employers will typically have primary responsibility for training and communication regarding site-specific hazards, staffing agencies must make reasonable inquiries to verify that the host employer is meeting these requirements.

For more information on this or any related topic please contact the authors, your Seyfarth attorney, or any member of the Workplace Safety and Health (OSHA/MSHA) Team.