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Temp workers and workplace safety: OSHA steps up monitoring

Workers’ compensation is a program designed to provide benefits to employees who get hurt on the job. Employers’ obligations are to provide such benefits for employees — not temporary workers, independent contractors, consultants or other non-employees.

To be sure, temporary workers may be eligible for workers comp. But it is the temp agency, not the employer at the work site, which is responsible for paying it.

In Maryland and across the country, however, workplace safety issues obviously affect all workers, regardless of their employee status. And the lead federal agency for regulating workplace safety is taking steps to enhance its efforts to monitor safety conditions for temporary workers.

Last week, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration outlined new guidelines for inspecting workplaces that employ temp workers. Under these guidelines, OSHA inspectors are supposed to check on whether temp workers have been exposed to unsafe conditions. The checks are also to include whether there was adequate health and safety training.

In today’s ethnically diverse America, many workers are not fluent in English. And so the OSHA workplace safety checks are supposed to determine not only whether health and safety training was, but whether it was done using a language that the workers affected could understand.

The new priority OSHA will be giving to temp worker checks comes in response to recent incidents. There have been problems uncovered in recent inspections where temporary workers were exposed to unsafe conditions.

The problems have included lack of proper safety training and failures to issue personal property equipment where appropriate.

Please visit our page on workplace injuries.

Source: New OSHA Enforcement Initiative Focuses on Temporary Staffing Agency Workers,” Bloomberg BNA, 5-2-13

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