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Top Staffing Providers Promote Safety in the Workplace
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In October of 2016, the American Staffing Association (ASA) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) publicly renewed their partnership for another five years. What is the significance of this relationship? It demonstrates a commitment on behalf of the staffing industry and the federal government to ensure safety in the workplace for America’s contingent labor force.
“It is part of our mission to make sure that at the end of every work shift, all temporary workers in the United States are able to go home safely to their families,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA David Michaels in a press release announcing the initiative. The ASA and OSHA share this common vision. Though this might seem like a simple goal, it requires accountability and an action-oriented response, because the risks are very real.
What Are the Risks?
In 2015, there were more than 2.9 million recordable cases of nonfatal injuries or illnesses in the private-industry sector of the American workforce. The unfortunate reality is that people do get hurt at work.
The renewal of this alliance between the ASA and OSHA follows OSHA’s establishment of the Temporary Worker Initiative in 2013. The policy background for this initiative identifies why OSHA believes contingent workers to be at an elevated risk for injury on the job.
For one thing, workers with greater tenure have fewer accidents, and contingent workers will be “new” more often than permanent workers. In addition, contingent workers comprise a greater portion of America’s workforce today than they have in the past.
OSHA believes that staffing providers and their clients bear joint responsibility to ensure workers are safe, and they issue citations accordingly. If OSHA investigators discover that a worker who was hired through a staffing agency is at risk, both the staffing agency and the client could be liable to receive citations.
On the flipside, a staffing partner that values safety and that takes initiative can be an asset for your organization. Staffing partners can work diligently to maintain and enhance safety in the workplace by enacting OSHA’s best practices and by providing innovative solutions that make safety a top priority for all associates.
How Can We Keep Workers Safe?
OSHA and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) have drawn up informational guidelines to help you and your staffing partner stay on the right track.
When it comes to your contingent workforce, your staffing partner can take on a leadership role for the oversight of several guidelines, but there’s at least one guideline where you need to take the helm: Assign occupational safety and health responsibilities and define the scope of work in the contract. From the outset of your working relationship, you must formally establish whether you or your staffing partner will ensure compliance with each requirement. You’ll also need to confirm that your staffing partner’s workers will not be assigned to new tasks without the partner’s prior agreement.
On top of that, there are three additional components of a strong safety program that will help satisfy the remaining guidelines put forward by OSHA and NIOSH. These three elements will help ensure that your staffing partner is ready to enforce compliance and to keep workers safe.
- Workers’ Compensation Risk Certification: Businesses that are WRC Certified have been verified by an independent party as organizations that uphold industry-leading standards when it comes to maintaining safety in the workplace. Among other standards, qualifying institutions must be familiar with client facilities, be able to provide safety consultation to their clients, preserve accurate client safety records, and coordinate a seamless transition from their more general safety orientation to the client’s site-specific safety training.
- Onsite Safety Program: OSHA and NIOSH recommend that staffing agency personnel should be trained to look for potential safety hazards and positive practices. The staffing partner should maintain contact with their associates to ensure compliance with regulations. Whether overseen by your contingent workforce provider’s onsite manager or by their specialized onsite safety manager, a safety program operated by your staffing partner in which agency representatives actively monitor your facility on a regular basis should help put your mind at ease.
- Critical Behavioral Inventory (CBI): Staffing providers should conduct daily CBIs tailored to the specific safety requirements of your facility in order to ensure that associates are engaged in safe behaviors. To implement a CBI program, your staffing partner will randomly select associates on a daily basis and observe their job performance. Your partner will then have an accurate assessment of where there are gaps in safe behavior as well as a blueprint for how to address these gaps. That staffing agency will also have a track record that documents which associates deserve positive reinforcement because they exhibited safe behaviors or demonstrated their knowledge of safe practices. This proactive initiative results in a record of potentially unsafe actions that can be used to prevent accidents from occurring in the future.
Safe workplaces don’t just happen; they’re created. To make sure that your contingent workers are as safe in your facility as your permanent workforce, you should partner with a staffing provider that continuously works to improve its safety record. In addition, the guidelines provided by OSHA and NIOSH can help steer you toward a compliant jobsite. It’ll help to partner with a proactive staffing provider that is WRC Certified and also skilled in administering onsite safety programs and CBI.
For a more comprehensive review of risk mitigation strategies, take a look at our Best Practices for a Comprehensive Safety Program >
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