OSHA launches initiative to protect temporary workers

May 1, 2013

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has announced an initiative to further protect temporary employees from workplace hazards.

OSHA has sent a memorandum, viewable at http://s.dol.gov/zm, to its regional administrators directing field inspectors to assess whether employers who use temporary workers are complying with their responsibilities under the Occupational Safety and Health Act. Inspectors will use a newly created code in their information system to denote when temporary workers are exposed to safety and health violations. Additionally, they will assess whether temporary workers received required training in a language and vocabulary they could understand. The memo underscores the duty of employers to protect all workers from hazards.

Of the thousands of workers who die each year on the job from preventable hazards, "many… are temporary workers who often perform the most dangerous jobs, have limited English proficiency, and are not receiving the training and protective measures required. Workers must be safe, whether they've been on the job for one day or for 25 years," said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health.

In addition, OSHA has begun working with the American Staffing Association and employers that use staffing agencies to promote best practices ensuring that temporary workers are protected from job hazards.

In recent months OSHA has received a series of reports about temporary workers suffering fatal injuries, many during their first days on a job. OSHA has issued citations when the employer failed to provide adequate protections, including safety training.