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OSHA and The Workplace: Who Protects Temporary Workers?

F Marie Athey OHST

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F Marie Athey OHST | June 21, 2013 | Comments Off on OSHA and The Workplace: Who Protects Temporary Workers?

OSHA and The Workplace: Who Protects Temporary Workers?

No one’s first day on the job should ever be their last day alive. Newly-released data shows that temporary workers are being placed into hazardous jobs without adequate training. Contracted employees accounted for 12 percent of the fatal work injuries in 2011. Hispanic/Latino contractors made up more than a quarter of these fatalities, suggesting language barriers in the training of temporary workers are contributing to the dangerous conditions.

“Many of those killed and injured are temporary workers who often perform the most dangerous jobs, have limited English proficiency and are not receiving the training and protective measures required,” said Dr. David Michaels, OSHA’s Assistant Secretary of Labor. “Workers must be safe, whether they’ve been on the job for one day or for 25 years.”

OSHA recently slammed the Bacardi Bottling Corporation with a $192,000 fine following the death of a temporary employee at its Jacksonville, Florida facility. The 21-year-old man was recruited from a staffing agency and was working his first shift when he was crushed last August. He was cleaning glass under a pallet machine when another worker turned the equipment on, crushing him.

Bacardi was cited for 12 violations following the tragic accident, including failing to use locks and tags on machines—a measure meant to avoid sudden starts. Two citations for “willful violations” (those committed with intentional disregard for the law or worker safety) were also issued for the plant’s failure to develop, document and utilize procedures for the control of potentially hazardous equipment.

“We are seeing untrained workers–many of them temporary workers–killed very soon after starting a new job. This must stop,” said Michaels. “Employers must train all employees, including temporary workers, on the hazards specific to that workplace – before they start working. Had Bacardi done so, this tragic loss of life could have been prevented.”

OSHA, citing a rise in cases such as the one at the Bacardi plant, is ramping up efforts to protect temporary workers from on-the-job dangers. OSHA sets and enforces standards with training, education and assistance, but ultimate responsibility for preventing injuries is shared by temporary agencies and employers.

Temporary Agencies must do the following:

  • Learn about any safety risks at work sites.
  • Deliver safety information to workers in their native language.
  • Work with employers to make sure temporary workers get site-specific safety training.
  • Make sure all employees get workers’ compensation insurance.
  • Record any illnesses or injuries temporary workers incur.

Work Site Employers must do the following:

  • Train workers on proper use of equipment.
  • Train workers on safe handling of chemicals.
  • Train workers on site-specific emergency procedures.
  • Provide workers with personal protective equipment and training in its use.
  • Record any illnesses or injuries temporary workers incur.

Contracts between temporary agencies and employers must clearly outline safety responsibilities to prevent confusion. Who will provide training? What personal protective equipment will be required, and who will provide it? Who are the points of contact with the agency and with the work site? Do workers have their names and phone numbers?

Are temporary workers safe at your work site? OSHAcampus.com has worker safety training resources in HAZWOPER, Environmental, Construction, General Industry and a range other topics. Convenient and cost-effective educational solutions that improve your safety, compliance and risk management initiatives are available on-demand. After you register, you’ll have an assigned trainer who can answer questions about the safety training you and your company need.

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