Earlier this month, COATS attended the American Staffing Association’s Staffing Law Conference in Washington DC. There has never been a better time for this conference, considering the legal issues facing staffing. And as always, it was great to connect with members of the COATS family while we were there.
One of the panels that interested us was “Protecting Temporary Worker Welfare: Harassment and Work Site Safety Investigations”. The panel discussing this issue included legal and safety experts from the staffing industry.
Temporary-worker safety is the topic of a new initiative from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Late last month, OSHA announced that it had “sent a memorandum to the agency’s regional administrators directing field inspectors to assess whether employers who use temporary workers are complying with their responsibilities.”
It’s not all bad news: for one thing, it shows that staffing associates are being taken seriously. Also, OSHA is working with ASA to develop guidance for this initiative, so we’ve got a voice in it.
Here are some of the panel’s recommendations about how to make sure you and your clients pass OSHA inspection with flying colors:
- Document as much as possible in the client contract: who trains the associate, who’s responsible for day-to-day supervision, what tasks associates will be performing (avoid “other duties as assigned” as much as possible), what tasks associates are prohibited from doing, whether you’re allowed to investigate any on-the-job accidents.
- Have clear boundaries: Make sure your client contract doesn’t indemnify your client’s employees as well as your associates, or make you responsible for your associates after their assignment ends.
- Talk safety from the start with clients: Give each new client a “safety partnership letter,” outlining your commitment to the safety of your associates and clearly showing each party’s responsibilities. For existing clients, your sales force could meet with them to talk about associate safety.
- Be prepared for the worst: Make sure your staffers know your accident investigation procedures and can perform them whenever an accident occurs. Be sure you have access to a well-trained investigator and outside legal counsel in the case of a serious accident. Also, take advantage of the 24-hour medical professionals that are available, such as nurse triage and reporting services.
- After an accident, make your presence visible: Promptly interview all associates involved; call, discuss, review and investigate. Let your associates know that you care about their safety. When interviewing them, ask if there is a better/safer way to perform an operation.
Not only will these tips help out with an OSHA investigation, they can make it easier to win worker’s compensation claims. W/C claims can be very costly; settling one $50,000 claim requires $1 million in sales.
What do you do to help ensure the safety of your associates? Let us know in the comments!