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Communication and Coordination for Host Employers, Contractors, and Staffing Agencies

In today's economy, an increasing number of workers are assigned by staffing agencies to work at specific host worksites under the direction and control of the host employer. Examples include seasonal workers, such as delivery drivers and warehouse workers, who may be placed in both short- and long-term assignments. In these situations, it is important for the staffing agency and the host employer to communicate and coordinate to provide and maintain a safe work environment for their workers.

In other situations, some workers are employed by a host employer and others by a contractor or subcontractor. Examples include electrical or mechanical contractors working in a facility, a vendor installing or maintaining equipment, or long-term contractors providing building cleaning and maintenance. OSHA refers to these as "multiemployer" worksites. In these circumstances, it is important that each employer and contractor consider how its work and safety activities can affect the safety of other employers and workers at the site.

In both temporary worker and multiemployer situations, safety is enhanced if employers establish mechanisms to coordinate their efforts and communicate effectively to afford all workers equal protection against hazards. These mechanisms include measures to ensure that all workers on site (and their representatives) can participate in preventing injuries and illnesses. Failure to take these steps may undermine safety programs. For example, if the different employers have inconsistent policies for when and where to wear personal protective equipment, workers may mistakenly believe that the equipment is not needed, leading to injury. Inconsistent safety policies may also cause workers to question the credibility of safety and health programs, resulting in less meaningful employee engagement and participation.

Effective communication and coordination among such employers means that, before coming on site, contractors and staffing agencies and their workers are aware of:

  • The types of hazards that may be present.
  • The procedures or measures they need to use to avoid or control their exposure to these hazards.
  • How to contact the host employer to report an injury, illness, or incident or if they have a safety concern.

It also means that host employers and their workers are aware of:

  • The types of hazards that may arise from the work being done on site by workers employed by contractors or staffing agencies.
  • The procedures or measures needed to avoid or control exposure to these hazards.
  • How to contact the contract or staffing firm if they have a safety concern.
  • What to do in case of an emergency.

Action item 1: Establish effective communication

Action item 2: Establish effective coordination

Action item 1: Establish effective communication

Each host employer establishes and implements a procedure to ensure the exchange of information about hazards present on site and the hazard control measures in place. Thus, all workers on the site are aware of worksite hazards, and the methods and procedures needed to control exposures to them.

How to accomplish it
  • The host employer communicates with contractors and staffing agencies to determine which among them will implement and maintain the various parts of the safety and health program, to ensure protection of all on-site workers before work begins. These determinations can be included in contract documents that define the relationships between the parties.
  • The host employer establishes and implements procedures to exchange information with contractors and staffing agencies about hazards present in the workplace and the measures that have been implemented to prevent or control such hazards.
  • The host employer gathers and disseminates information sufficient to enable each employer to assess hazards encountered by its workers and to avoid creating hazards that affect workers on the site.
  • Contractors and staffing agencies regularly give the host employer any information about injuries, illnesses, hazards, or concerns reported by their workers and the results of any tracking or trend analysis they perform.
  • Each contractor establishes and implements a procedure for providing the host employer with information about the hazards and control measures associated with the work being done by its workers and the procedures it will use to protect workers on the site.
  • The host employer gives contract employers and staffing agencies the right to conduct site visits and inspections and to access injury and illness records and other safety and health information.
  • The host employer communicates with contractors and staffing agencies and their workers about nonroutine and emergency hazards and emergency procedures.
  • Information is communicated before on-site work starts and, as needed, if conditions change.

Action item 2: Establish effective coordination

Host employers, contractors, and staffing agencies coordinate on work planning, scheduling, and resolving program differences to identify and work out any concerns or conflicts that could impact safety or health.

How to accomplish it

Host employers:

  • Include in contracts and bid documents any safety-related specifications and qualifications and ensure that contractors and staffing agencies selected for the work meet those requirements.
  • Identify issues that may arise during on-site work and include procedures to be used by the host employer and contractors and/or staffing agencies for resolving any conflicts before work starts.

Host employers coordinate with contractors and staffing agencies to:

  • Ensure that work is planned and scheduled to minimize impacts on safety.
  • Ensure that staffing agency workers are adequately trained and equipped before arriving on the worksite.
  • Harmonize their safety and health policies and procedures to resolve important differences, so that all workers at the site have the same protection and receive consistent safety information.

Host employers and staffing agencies:

  • Work together to deal with unexpected staffing needs by ensuring that enough trained and equipped workers are available or that adequate lead time is provided to train and equip workers.
  • Make sure that managers with decision-making authority are available and prepared to deal with day-to-day coordination issues.

Definitions

Host employer: An employer who has general supervisory authority over the worksite, including controlling the means and manner of work performed and having the power to correct safety and health hazards or require others to correct them.

Contractor: An individual or firm that agrees to furnish materials or perform services at a specified price, and controls the details of how the work will be performed and completed.

Staffing agency: A firm that provides temporary workers to host employers. A staffing agency hires its own employees and assigns them to support or supplement a client's workforce in situations involving employee absences, temporary skill shortages, seasonal workloads, and special projects.

Temporary workers: Workers hired and paid by a staffing agency and assigned to work for a host employer, whether or not the job is actually temporary.

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