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Safety matters for temporary workers, too

This time of year, leading up to the Christmas and Hanukkah season, sees retailers, factories, delivery/logistics providers and more adding temporary workers en masse. Temp or seasonal workers sometimes get a “bad rap” on the job, because they are only there to tide things over until work slows back down. That is wholly unfair to the countless men and women who fill these seasonal positions, though.

Temporary and seasonal workers have every expectation for the job that permanent workers do, including adequate pay, timely breaks, and sufficient safety protections. This is true even for workers hired by staffing agencies and trained on site. Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) provisions and state-level Maryland Occupational Safety and Health (MOSH) regulations apply to host employers and staffing agencies alike.

Who’s responsible for safety?

In short, both the host employer and the staffing agency are responsible. The split of responsibility is fact-specific, however, and may be dependent upon such things as the amount of time each spent with the employee, any contractual obligations taken by each, and the amount of access each has to the employee once work begins. According to OSHA, though, “staffing agencies and host employers share control over the worker, and are therefore jointly responsible for temporary workers' safety and health.”

The staffing agency might, for example, provide training on general health and safety procedures, with the host employer taking the reins to adequately train seasonal and temporary workers on safety protocols, including such minutiae as how to use machinery, lift packages, load onto delivery vehicles and sort items for delivery.  

Workplace injuries can happen even with adequate training. If you’re hurt on the job, even as a seasonal worker, you still have rights. Consider contacting an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to learn more about what benefits are available to you as a temporary worker.

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