OSHA Issues Guidance for Recording Temp Worker Injuries

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Many employers have questions about who is responsible for recording work-related injuries when temporary workers are involved. To help clarify this issue, OSHA has published a new booklet that addresses OSHA 300 recordkeeping for staffing agencies and companies that hire temporary workers. Read on to learn why OSHA has taken this step and why it matters.

The new Recordkeeping Bulletin was issued as part of the agency's Temporary Worker Initiative, which combines enforcement, outreach and training. The initiative was launched in response to multiple reports of temporary workers suffering serious or fatal injuries, many during their first days on the job.

The bulletin is the first in a series of guidance documents intended to raise awareness about compliance with OSHA requirements when temporary workers are involved. You can download the publication from OSHA's website at https://www.osha.gov/temp_workers/OSHA_TWI_Bulletin.pdf.

Coordinating safety responsibilities

When a staffing agency supplies temporary workers to a business, the staffing agency and the staffing firm client (host employer) are joint employers of the workers. And according to OSHA, both are to some degree responsible for determining the conditions of employment and for complying with the law.

Questions about which employer is responsible for ensuring various safety and health protections are common. To strike the right balance, OSHA recommends that both employers consider which workplace safety provisions they are in the best position to implement. Generally, staffing agencies can provide workers with basic safety and health training and information about their rights and responsibilities under the OSH Act, while host employers should train temporary workers on specific hazards they will encounter at the worksite and procedures for working safely. However, every situation is different, and OSHA recommends that the two employers coordinate their efforts and agree on safety responsibilities in a contract.

Supervision is key

For injury and illness recordkeeping, the agency's guidance is more specific. OSHA notes in its new resource that injuries and illnesses should be recorded on only one employer's OSHA 300 log. In most cases, the host employer is responsible for recording these .incidents.

Recordkeeping responsibility is generally determined by supervision. Employers must record the injuries and illnesses of temporary workers if they supervise them on a day-to-day basis, which OSHA defines as supervising "the details, means, methods, and processes by which the work is to be accomplished."

Essentially, an employer is considered to be performing day-to-day supervision when that employer controls the conditions presenting potential hazards and directs the worker's activities around those hazards. Because the host employer usually fills this role, it is usually the host employer that is responsible for recording injuries and illnesses on its OSHA 300 log.

While the staffing agency may have a representative at the host employer worksite, the presence of that person does not necessarily transfer recordkeeping responsibilities to the staffing agency. But OSHA notes that the staffing agency must share responsibility for its workers' safety and health. Agencies should maintain frequent communication with their employees and with the host employer.

OSHA also requires that information about injuries and illnesses be regularly shared between the host employer and the staffing agency. If a temporary worker sustains an injury and the host employer knows of it, the staffing agency should be informed, and vice versa. This communication allows both employers to focus on eliminating hazards and providing appropriate training to prevent future injuries.