Safety for Temporary Workers


In a recent memo, OSHA announced an initiative to help protect temporary employees from workplace hazards. The agency said it’s taking action after reports of temporary workers suffering fatal injuries – many during their first days on the job.


A major issue surrounding temp workers is that they can be overlooked – especially when it comes to adequate training, protective equipment, and even the proper reporting of  injuries. Although employers are required to report and log all injuries, non-reporting for temporary workers remains a common practice today.


Some employers still have the mindset that since temp worker is being paid by someone else (the staffing agency), then the temp is not a real employee. This is not how OSHA sees it. Employers must treat temp workers as their own employees, and all OSHA rules apply. If they get hurt or need training, PPE, medical exams, or air monitoring, they must receive the same treatment as regular employees.


The new OSHA effort will result in inspectors using a newly created code in their information system to denote when temporary workers are exposed to safety and health violations, and differentiating between temporary workers and permanent workers. In addition, they will verify that temp workers have received training in a language they can understand.


Below is an excerpt from OSHA’s memo:

Employers have a duty to provide necessary safety and health training to all workers regarding workplace hazards. In order to determine whether employers are complying with their responsibilities under the Act, please direct CSHOs in your region to determine within the scope of their inspections whether any employees are temporary workers and whether any of the identified temporary employees are exposed to a violative condition. In addition, CSHOs should assess- using records review and interviews – whether those workers have in fact received required training in a language and vocabulary they understand. Recent inspections have indicated problems where temporary workers have not been trained and were not protected from serious workplace hazards due to lack of personal protective equipment when working with hazardous chemicals and lack of lockout/tagout protections, among others.