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With holiday season looming, the safety of temporary workers a concern

From the construction industry to the retail industry, many U.S. businesses readily rely upon and employ temporary workers. With the busy retail holiday season quickly approaching, there will be an increased need for temporary workers at many warehouses, packing and shipping facilities and retail locations throughout the U.S. and it's imperative that both staffing agencies and host employers take steps to provide for the health and safety of these temporary employees.

In the past, an individual assigned to a temporary job assignment was typically placed by an agency and then handed off to a host employer. In many cases, these individuals received little to no job training and were not educated or made aware of possible safety and health hazards associated with their job environment or specific assigned work duties.

As a result of these dangerous business and employment practices, OSHA noted numerous cases in which temporary employees were seriously injured or killed. In many cases, these injuries or deaths occurred within the first few days of a temporary employee being placed with a host employer.

A major problem contributing to dangerous working conditions for temporary employees stemmed from a lack of accountability on the part of both staffing agencies and host employers. Neither took responsibility for training a temporary employee and neither believed they were negligent in cases involving injuries or deaths.

In response to growing concern over the lack of safety education and training for temporary workers, OSHA established new guidelines that help outline the responsibilities of both staffing agencies and host employers in providing for temporary workers' job training and overall safety.

While each worker's specific assignment and assigned work duties must be taken into account, OSHA is clear in articulating that both staffing agencies and employers bear certain responsibilities. These include clear communication to ensure a worker receives basic safety training and job-specific training. Additionally, staffing agencies are required to take steps to ensure a host employer is providing adequate training and ensuring for the protection and safety of temporary employees.

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