On March 15, 2016, members of the American Staffing Association (ASA) Employee Safety Committee (including two employees from New Era HR Solutions) met with representatives from the State of Washington’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH). The purpose of the meeting, held at ASA’s request, was to discuss the agency’s enforcement efforts against staffing firms and clarify the respective safety responsibilities of staffing firms and their clients. For purposes of the meeting discussion, it was assumed that, under the conventional staffing model, staffing firms’ clients supervise, direct, and control assigned temporary workers’ work. Agency clients are commonly referred to as the “Host Employer”.
After noting DOSH noted that the agency has eight compliance officers across the state and approximately 365 staff members, two-thirds of whom work in the field, the following specific topics were addressed:
- Clarifying staffing firms’ and host employer’s respective duties for IIPP/APP, PPE needs assessments, hazard assessments, etc., and challenges presented with short-term assignments
- What inspectors typically look for during investigations/audits of host employers and staffing firms; and what initial and ongoing training is provided to inspectors regarding temporary workers
- Responsibility for and practical considerations regarding hearing conservation and baseline audiogram testing
- Informing staffing firms of investigations/audits of client sites and any violative conditions
- Requirements regarding safety committees and monthly meetings and how they may or may not be applicable to temporary employees
- July 7, 2006 WISHA Regional Directive on Dual Employers (http://www.lni.wa.gov/Safety/Rules/Policies/PDFs/WRD115.pdf); is this still being followed and has it been updated
- Application of hazard communication requirements to remodels, new buildings, and other workplace chemical applications
- Responsibility for reporting in-patient hospitalizations
DOSH representatives included Anne Soiza, assistant director; Brian Sahli, consultation services manager; Mark Soltow, regional consultation manager; Bruce Zeller; Alan Lundeen; Mark Soltow; Craig Blackwood; R. Bruce Christim; and Terry Walley.
Safety Responsibilities of Staffing Firms and Clients
DOSH representatives noted that the respective safety responsibilities of staffing firms and clients should clearly be set forth in the parties’ contract, which investigators will scrutinize, and such contract should address temporary workers’ performance of non-routine tasks and attendant safety considerations. In that regard, staffing clients cannot satisfy their safety obligations by delegating them to staffing firms through contracts. DOSH will review staffing firm contracts and inform firms if such contracts are adequate under applicable legal requirements, and agreed to review and provide feedback on ASA’s sample agreement with clients with respect to (i) legal requirements; and (ii) best practices.
Staffing firms must have an accident prevention program (APP) for, at the very least, their internal staff. If the staffing firm has no control over the client’s worksite to which temporary employees are assigned, the client’s APP must cover the temporary employees. Nevertheless, prior to any assignment, staffing firms must provide temporary employees with basic information such as the nature of the work, the general working conditions to which the worker will be exposed, and the equipment the workers will be operating. Staffing firms also must inform temporary workers of their rights with respect to workplace safety, educate them about safety data sheets, and inform them as to whom to contact in the event of a workplace incident (per the staffing firm’s hazard communication plan).
Moreover, the staffing firm should, to the extent possible, obtain the client’s written APP to ensure that temporary workers are covered, as well as any additional documentation such as a written job order, job description, or job hazard analysis.
With respect to reporting temporary workers’ serious injuries, whoever supervises the means and manner of the temporary worker’s work will have such responsibility. If the staffing firm does not so supervise, the client will be responsible for reporting. In that regard, a staffing firm’s on-site presence at the client’s worksite for administrative purposes (e.g., timesheet collection, etc.) does not constitute supervision for safety purposes.
DOSH has no immediate plans to update the July 7, 2006 WISHA Regional Directive on Dual Employers.
Thirty-day exposure is the relevant timeframe under state law and the staffing firm and client must determine which party will conduct audio testing; however, the staffing firm must keep records of all testing. DOSH can address hearing conservation in writing, this year, after giving the issue more consideration.
Staffing firms must have a safety committee for internal staff. The staffing firm must verify that the client has a safety committee and that it will represent the interests of temporary workers. Temporary workers do not have be part of the client’s safety committee, but must be informed that a client safety committee exists and have the opportunity to speak with members of the committee.
DOSH holds an annual governor’s conference, at which a session on temporary worker safety could be featured. DOSH would also consider doing webinars on the subject as well as creating a webpage that addresses frequently asked questions regarding temporary worker safety.
Notice of DOSH Investigations of Clients
DOSH will consider the practicalities and difficulties of informing staffing firms of client investigations that do not involve temporary workers. Staffing firms are entitled to obtain copies of client citation notices (other than those pertaining to fatalities) and inspection reports.