California Contract Workers at Risk

In honor of Workers’ Memorial Day in April, OSHA has launched an enforcement, outreach and training initiative to increase safety for temporary workers. This announcement followed the recent death of yet another contract worker – a young man who died his very first day on the job at the Bacardi Bottling Corporation. According to the Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA, “Many of those killed and injured are temporary workers who often perform the most dangerous jobs, have limited English proficiency, and are not receiving the training and protective measures required”.

In fact, about 12% of workplace fatalities are temp workers. That’s according to the latest data released in the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The total number of workplace deaths from injury in 2011 was 4,693. Of these, 542 were temporary staff – and about one in five were federal, state, or local government contract workers. Overall, California ranks 3rd in the nation for deaths among temporary employees.

Inspectors Have an Eye Out for Temp Worker Safety

OSHA just added a new code to its system that helps inspectors differentiate between regular and temporary workers on job sites. This means the agency can now take a closer look at the work environment for these at-risk employees to identify whether any are being exposed to hazardous conditions as part of their specific assigned tasks. OSHA inspectors will also investigate to determine the degree of supervision provided by the host employer vs. the staffing agency providing the temp workers.

As always, if your organization is responsible for the job site or supervising the workers, you are fully responsible for workplace safety. Even if temp workers will only be with your agency for a short time, remember that those first few days on the job can actually be the most dangerous. Now is a good time to make sure your agency has more than enough personal protective equipment to supply all your workers. It’s also a very good idea to go through your safety procedures, policies and hazard assessments to ensure nothing has been left out because you assume “everyone already knows it”. Having up-to-date training materials that are readily accessible and available in a language your contract employees understand is also critical for safety. We’re here to help you review all aspects of your OSHA compliance program so you can keep every worker safe.