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What Are Employers’ Safety Responsibilities Toward Temp Workers?

Many companies use temp workers for individual projects or to fill in before making a new hire. Who is in charge of safety responsibilities for these workers — the temp agency or the company hiring?

Employment Agencies and Host Employers Share Responsibility

The answer is both. Exactly who is responsible for what, however, can vary. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, has said, “Host employers need to treat temporary workers as they treat existing employees. Temporary staffing agencies and host employers share control over the employee, and are therefore jointly responsible for temp employee’s safety and health. It is essential that both employers comply with all relevant OSHA requirements.”

Clearly Communicate Who is Responsible for What

OSHA recommends that the staffing agency and the employer discuss and outline each of their responsibilities for compliance with applicable OSHA standards in their contract. OSHA’s position is that staffing agencies and host employers are jointly responsible for maintaining a safe work environment for temporary workers — including, for example, ensuring that OSHA’s training, hazard communication, and recordkeeping requirements are fulfilled.

OSHA could hold both the host and temporary employers responsible for violations, depending on the details of the case, so it’s important that everyone involved agrees and understands exactly who is taking responsibility for each element of safety.



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