OSHA Launches Initiative to Protect Temporary Workers from Workplace Hazards

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced an initiative to further protect temporary employees from workplace hazards. The announcement was made during a program at the department's headquarters marking Workers' Memorial Day, observed nationally on April 28 to honor workers who have died on the job and renew a commitment to making work sites across the country safer.

On April 29, 2013, OSHA 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 under the Occupational Safety and Health Act. Inspectors will use a newly created code in their information system to denote when temporary workers are exposed to safety and health violations. Additionally, they will assess whether temporary workers received required training in a language and vocabulary they could understand. The memo underscores the duty of employers to protect all workers from hazards.

In addition, OSHA has begun working with the American Staffing Association and employers that use staffing agencies, to promote best practices ensuring that temporary workers are protected from job hazards.

In recent months, OSHA has received a series of reports about temporary workers suffering fatal injuries – many during their first days on a job. OSHA has issued citations when the employer failed to provide adequate protections, including safety training.

Last week, the department's Bureau of Labor Statistics released new data from the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries about workers killed on the job in 2011. Fatal work injuries involving contractors accounted for 542 – or 12 percent – of the 4,693 fatal work injuries reported. Hispanic/Latino contractors accounted for 28 percent of fatal work injuries among contractors, well above their 16 percent share of the overall fatal work injury total for the year. Additional details are available at the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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