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12/7/13 Illinois: Temporary worker died after forklift he was operating fell between truck and dock.

12/4/13 New Jersey: Temporary worker died in fall after being caught in a sorter.

"Host employers need to treat temporary workers as they treat existing employees. Temporary staffing agencies and host employers share control over the employee, and are therefore jointly responsible for temp employee's safety and health. It is essential that both employers comply with all relevant OSHA requirements."
David Michaels, PhD, MPH, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health

Employer Responsibilities to Protect Temporary Workers *

To ensure that there is a clear understanding of each employer's role in protecting employees, OSHA recommends that the temporary staffing agency and the host employer set out their respective responsibilities for compliance with applicable OSHA standards in their contract. Including such terms in a contract will ensure that each employer complies with all relevant regulatory requirements, thereby avoiding confusion as to the employer's obligations.

Joint Responsibility

While the extent of responsibility under the law of staffing agencies and host employers is dependent on the specific facts of each case, staffing agencies and host employers are jointly responsible for maintaining a safe work environment for temporary workers - including, for example, ensuring that OSHA's training, hazard communication, and recordkeeping requirements are fulfilled.

OSHA could hold both the host and temporary employers responsible for the violative condition(s) - and that can include lack of adequate training regarding workplace hazards. Temporary staffing agencies and host employers share control over the worker, and are therefore jointly responsible for temporary workers' safety and health.

OSHA has concerns that some employers may use temporary workers as a way to avoid meeting all their compliance obligations under the OSH Act and other worker protection laws; that temporary workers get placed in a variety of jobs, including the most hazardous jobs; that temporary workers are more vulnerable to workplace safety and health hazards and retaliation than workers in traditional employment relationships; that temporary workers are often not given adequate safety and health training or explanations of their duties by either the temporary staffing agency or the host employer. Therefore, it is essential that both employers comply with all relevant OSHA requirements.

Both Host Employers and Staffing Agencies Have Roles

Both host employers and staffing agencies have roles in complying with workplace health and safety requirements and they share responsibility for ensuring worker safety and health.

A key concept is that each employer should consider the hazards it is in a position to prevent and correct, and in a position to comply with OSHA standards. For example: staffing agencies might provide general safety and health training, and host employers provide specific training tailored to the particular workplace equipment/hazards.

  • The key is communication between the agency and the host to ensure that the necessary protections are provided.
  • Staffing agencies have a duty to inquire into the conditions of their workers' assigned workplaces. They must ensure that they are sending workers to a safe workplace.
  • Ignorance of hazards is not an excuse.
  • Staffing agencies need not become experts on specific workplace hazards, but they should determine what conditions exist at their client (host) agencies, what hazards may be encountered, and how best to ensure protection for the temporary workers.
  • The staffing agency has the duty to inquire and verify that the host has fulfilled its responsibilities for a safe workplace.
  • And, just as important: Host employers must treat temporary workers like any other workers in terms of training and safety and health protections.
News Releases

March 13, 2014 [Trade News Release] OSHA releases new educational bulletin on injury recording requirements to help protect temporary workers

January 30, 2014 [Region 6] US Labor Department's OSHA forms alliance with staffing agency in Houston to train construction industry temporary workers

January 22, 2014 [Region 5] Illinois concrete company cited after temporary worker fatality

October 31, 2013 [Region 3] US Labor Department's OSHA cites B R Flowers and Co. Inc. and Tidewater Staffing Inc. after July heat fatality in Norfolk, Va.

Read More....

How can OSHA help?

Workers have a right to a safe workplace. If you think your job is unsafe or you have questions, contact OSHA at 1-800-321-OSHA (6742). It's confidential. We can help. For other valuable worker protection information, such as Workers' Rights, Employer Responsibilities and other services OSHA offers, visit OSHA's Workers' page.

OSHA also provides help to employers. OSHA's On-site Consultation Program offers free and confidential advice to small and medium-sized businesses in all states across the country, with priority given to high-hazard worksites. For more information or for additional compliance assistance, contact OSHA at 1‑800‑321‑OSHA (6742).


* From OSHA's webinar with the American Staffing Association

** Accessibility Assistance: Contact OSHA’s Office of Communications at 202-693-1999 for assistance accessing WMV and PDF materials.

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