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Safety Management Insights

Keeping Temporary Workers Safe

Posted by Don Brown on Dec 18, 2015 8:30:00 AM

temporary-workerTemporary jobs are among the fastest-growing employment opportunities, and that growth doesn’t seem set to slow anytime soon. With the economy still in repair—and with healthcare costs climbing— companies across all industries are hesitant to take on the responsibilities of providing for full-time permanent employees. Plus, many workers themselves enjoy the freedom that comes with temporary work and contract jobs.

To provide for the ongoing safety of these employees, OSHA launched the Temporary Worker Initiative in 2013. According to Dr. David Michaels, OSHA assistant secretary of labor, “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.” OSHA also noted in the initiative memo that roughly 12 percent of fatal workplace injuries in 2011 involved contractors.

Ultimately, both host employers and hiring agencies have many responsibilities. Companies that want to keep their workers safe—and protect themselves from OSHA scrutiny—should keep the following measures in mind when they hire contractors.

Hazard Recognition

Workers can’t keep themselves safe if they don’t know the hazards at their new jobsites. Experienced staff may take hazard recognition for granted, but employers should never assume their contractors will recognize every source of danger. Host companies need to clearly point out the locations, tasks and equipment that leave workers open to injury, and they need to do so in ways that everyone can understand. Signs should be printed in several languages, for instance, and instruction should be provided both verbally and in writing.

Safety Training

Likewise, host companies can’t assume their new hires received proper safety training at their previous jobs. Just as it’s your responsibility to bring your full-time workers up to speed, you’ll need to conduct training sessions for all temporary workers. These sessions should include general safety policies and procedures, as well as specific instruction relevant to your company and facilities.

Personal Protective Equipment

All too often, contractors are killed or injured due to inadequate protective equipment. Some companies cut corners, but many simply fail to account for their contractors as they purchase and distribute helmets, safety suits and other gear. Fatal accidents can be avoided by checking and double-checking that everyone on a job is properly protected.

Roles and Responsibilities

Not every worker can perform every task. It’s up to you to make sure only qualified personnel are performing the most demanding and dangerous jobs. Keep your workers safe by clearly assigning roles and responsibilities, and protect yourself by documenting these assignments.

Incident Tracking

To avoid repeat incidents and create a safer working environment, you’ll also need to keep track of every accident and illness. OSHA has its own reporting requirements, but you’ll want to track incidents electronically on your end, as well. The right software will allow you to spot trends and find out the major sources of danger for your contractors.

Communication

Last but certainly not least, there must be consistent communication between hiring agencies and host companies. As OSHA says, “Staffing agencies have a duty to inquire into the conditions of their workers’ assigned workplaces. They must ensure that they are sending workers to safe workplaces.” Agencies aren’t expected to become experts in every industry, but they need to know what hazards their contractors face before they’re assigned. They also need to follow up and make sure those contractors are being kept safe during the course of their jobs.

BasicSafe offers safety management software that allows your company to store safety documents and share them with all of your employees. Having this information at your fingertips saves lives! Contact us today to learn more.

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