Who’s Responsible for Temporary Employees?

A temporary agency is aware of the type of work the temporary employee is performing and should also have a general idea of the types of hazards encountered. The client employer who hires the temporary worker usually provides the day-to-day job assignments and supervision, and is aware of the worksite-specific hazards that the temporary employee will be exposed to. But, who is responsible for the temporary employee’s safety, training and recordkeeping?

There is a shared responsibility between the temporary agency and the client employer to ensure that the temporary worker has the job knowledge and adequate safety training to perform the work assignment in a safe manner. The temporary agency should take the responsibility for providing basic safety training to the extent that it can without knowing the specific hazards. This basic training will familiarize the worker with training requirements. The client employer should have a clear idea of the jobs that will be assigned to the temporary employee and identify the hazards involved. The hazards will indicate the need for training. If exposure monitoring or medical surveillance is required to identify or control the hazard, the client employer needs to provide it.

There may be situations where a short-term job would require specialized safety training (e.g. training and equipment for confined space entry and respiratory protection) that goes beyond what the client employer would be able to readily provide a temporary worker. In this case, the company would need to turn the job over to a contractor who would be responsible for supervising, training, and equipping his own crew. Even in cases where contractors are running the job, the client employer still has the responsibility of keeping the contractor informed about site-specific hazards that could affect the contract employees.

OSHA considers temporary employment agencies that send their own employees to work at other facilities to be employers whose employees may be exposed to hazards. Since it is the temporary agency that maintains a continuing relationship with its employees, and another employer (the client) who creates and controls the hazards, there is a shared responsibility for assuring that the employees of the temporary agency are protected from the workplace hazards. The client has the primary responsibility of such protection.

OSHA recognizes that tracking injuries and illnesses experienced by temporary workers can be problematic in terms of counting days of restricted work activity and days away from work. Therefore, if the client employer is unable to track the exact number of lost workdays associated with an injury or illness experienced by a temporary worker, the client employer should make a good faith estimate of the number of lost workdays the case would likely require and enter that estimate on the OSHA Log.

With regards to recordkeeping, the primary factor to be considered in determining who should record a work-related injury or illness experienced by a temporary worker is determining who supervises the worker on a day-to-day basis.

If the worker is subject to the day-to-day supervision of the client employer, that firm should record the case on its own OSHA Log (YES, YOU READ THIS CORRECTLY).  If a temporary employee is injured on your facility using your tools/equipment and/or is directly supervised by one of your employees, then technically speaking the injury is supposed to be reported on your OSHA log.  Day-to-day supervision generally exists when the employer "supervises not only the output, product, or result to be accomplished by the person's work, but also the details, means, methods, and processes by which the work objective is accomplished."

In contrast, independent contractors "are primarily subject to supervision by the firm only in regard to the result to be accomplished or end product to be delivered", and the client employer would not be responsible for recording their injuries and illnesses.

In other words, labeling workers who are subject to day-to-day supervision by the client employer as independent contractors for some purposes does not relieve the client employer's obligation to record their occupational injuries and illnesses on the client employer's own OSHA 300 log, pursuant to 29 CFR Part 1904.

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