The increasing use of temps has benefitted workers and employers alike, but, “employers must train all employees, including temporary workers, on the hazards specific to that workplace – before they start working,” an OSHA official stated.
On his first day on the job as a temporary worker at a Bacardi Bottling plant, Lawrence Daquan “Day” Davis died in a workplace accident: he was crushed by a palletizing machine. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration eventually cited the employer with 12 alleged safety violations relating to the death of Davis. When announcing the citations, the agency also said it was proposing nearly $200,000 in penalties.
“We are seeing untrained workers – many of them temporary workers – killed very soon after starting a new job. This must stop,” stated Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health. “Employers must train all employees, including temporary workers, on the hazards specific to that workplace – before they start working.”
That accident, just one among numerous on-the-job fatalities for temps, has raised concerns among government regulators. An April 29, 2013, memo announced new scrutiny on training and safety practices for temp workers. In it, the agency cited Davis’s death as an example of employer lapses. The memo calls on the agency’s regional administrators to direct field inspectors to assess whether employers who use temps are complying with their responsibilities under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. Among other things, inspectors are now also supposed to determine whether temps understand both the language and the vocabulary of the training they receive.
As OSHA ratchets up its scrutiny of temp workers, employers must understand and comply with their duties regarding training and safety before accidents occur.
The increasing use of temps has provided benefits to workers and employers alike across the United States. Slightly more than 2% of the U.S. workforce consisted of temporary workers in November 2013, according to information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That ties a peak from more than 10 years ago, when the “temporary worker penetration rate” reached 2.03-percent in April 2000.
Multiple factors have led to the growth of temp workers, including many employees’ desire for flexibility, companies’ need to remain nimble in an uncertain economy, and companies’ desire to employ fewer than the 50 full-time employees that triggers coverage under the Affordable Care Act.