Friday, May 3, 2013

OSHA Launches initiative to protect temporary workers

OSHA has announced an initiative to further protect temporary employees from workplace hazards.

A memorandum sent to the agency’s regional administrators directs field inspectors to assess whether employers who use temporary workers are complying with their responsibilities under the Occupational Safety and Health Act. Inspectors will denote when temporary workers are exposed to safety and health violations and assess whether temporary workers received required training in a language and vocabulary they could understand. The memo that underscores the duty of employers to protect all workers from hazards is as follows:


April 29, 2013
MEMORANDUM FOR:
REGIONAL ADMINISTRATORS
THROUGH:
RICHARD E. FAIRFAX
Deputy Assistant Secretary
FROM:
THOMAS GALASSI, Director
Directorate of Enforcement Programs
SUBJECT:
Protecting the Safety and Health of Temporary Workers
In recent months, we have received a series of reports of temporary workers suffering fatal injuries during the first days on a job. In some cases, the employer failed to provide safety training or, if some instruction was given, it inadequately addressed the hazard, and this failure contributed to their death.
Given the number of temporary workers and the recent high profile fatal incidents, the agency is making a concerted effort using enforcement, outreach and training to assure that temporary workers are protected from workplace hazards. OSHA has previously addressed issues affecting temporary workers and leased employees in several letters of interpretation and directives, and has issued citations regarding lack of protection to such workers, most recently citing Bacardi Bottling Corporation following the death of a 21-year old temporary worker on his first day on the job.
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.
To better identify this vulnerable population, we need your assistance gathering and tracking certain information during inspections and investigations ofworksites where temporary workers are employed. For the purposes of this information gathering, "temporary worker" includes those who are working under a host employer/staffing agency employment structure. 1
To capture this information, we have created a new OIS code for temporary workers. If a CSHO determines during inspection activity that any temporary employees are exposed to a violative condition (i.e., included in the Number of Employees Exposed drop down in OIS), the CSHO shall enter the code "TEMPWORKERS" in the Federal Strategic Initiative Program field of the OIS system.
In addition, when encountering temporary workers during the scope of an inspection, CSHOs should document the name of the temporary workers' staffing agency, the agency's location, and the supervising structure under which the temporary workers are reporting (i.e., the extent to which the temporary workers are being supervised on a day-to-day basis either by the host employer or the staffing agency).
Thank you for your attention to this matter. Should you have any questions, please contact Mary Lynn in the Office of Chemical Process Safety and Enforcement Initiatives, at lynn.mary@dol.gov. Thank you for your assistance in this new enforcement initiative.

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.
Last week, the department's Bureau of Labor Statistics released new data from the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries about workers killed on the job in 2011. Fatal work injuries involving contractors accounted for 542 – or 12 percent – of the 4,693 fatal work injuries reported. Hispanic/Latino contractors accounted for 28 percent of fatal work injuries among contractors, well above their 16 percent share of the overall fatal work injury total for the year. Additional details are available at http://www.bls.gov/iif/oshwc/cfoi/contractor2011.pdf.

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