Who’s Responsible for the Workplace Safety and Health of Temporary Workers? The Client or the Staffing Agency?

Actually both are, but there is a new initiative sharing best practices to better protect temporary employees while they are on the job. Host employers (the client where the employee is working) are provided with best practices for “evaluating and addressing workplace safety and health in a written contract; training for temporary workers and their worksite supervisors; and for reporting, response and record keeping for injuries and illness.”


The United States National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health in conjunction with the American Staffing Association and other partners share that host employers should have a best practices checklist for evaluating and contracting to work with temporary employees.


For evaluation of temporary workers and their chosen staffing agency, host employers:


  • are responsible for the health and safety of both their permanent and temporary employees.
  • should conduct a joint risk assessment with the staffing agency to review tasks assigned, job descriptions, potential exposures, job hazards, equipment and machinery and worksites.
  • should share safety data, materials and information with the staffing agency to ensure they can evaluate the safety of the worksite for their temporary employees.
  • should allow site visits where the staffing agency can visit and walk through the host employers worksites.
  • should make sure the staffing agency they work with is committed to the safety and health of their temporary employees, the should create a process to evaluate job candidates’ qualifications and/or experience for each job assignment and that general safety and health training is provided to temporary employees before beginning work at each job assignment.


Regarding the host employers best practices for utilizing temporary workers within their firm, written contracts signed by the host employer and staffing company should include the following details:

  • job details with approved tasks and qualifications, any hazardous tasks employees should NOT perform and any equipment and/or machinery they are NOT allowed to operate along with the needed qualifications/experience the employee should have to perform the job.
  • hazards and controls for the temporary employees assigned to work including safety data sheets.
  • the training each employee will receive from each employer prior to starting work
  • the type of PPE equipment that will be needed and which employer will pay for it, ensure it fits, who handles the medical evaluation and fit test and trains each employee on the use and maintenance of their equipment.
  • the documentation that the staffing agency will provide to the host employer for each temporary employee’s specific qualifications/experience relevant to the tasks needed and at what intervals the host employer and staffing agency will review work and sites to ensure there are no safety hazards, and to update training and PPE for employees on a continual basis.
  • how the host employer will update job task changes to include new written job descriptions to the employee and agency with job hazard updates to the agency, update training/PPE while allowing the agency time to evaluate the site and ability of employees to take on new tasks with the agency giving written approval before employees begin new tasks.
  • how the host employer will communicate any changing hazards in writing to the staffing agency during the contract and procedures for documentation of safety and health training provided to employees by both employers and that the host employer will notify the agency if under OSHA investigation and why.
  • Injury and illness reporting such as procedures for workers to report work-related injuries, illness and close calls, how to share safety and health concerns to both the host employer and staffing agency without fear and how each employer will notify each other after any of these items takes place and who will share these records when requested by a temporary employee.
  • Other aspects of safety and health to review include which employer is the direct supervisor, how an employee can be mentored, trained and reviewed, who pays for worker’s compensation, how the two firms will protect employees from infectious diseases (same as permanent employees), and the host employer is to conduct medical surveillance and screening of employees if exposed to conditions and share said information with the staffing agency and temporary employees. Secure sites will have a protocol for temporary employees and staffing agencies to gain access, including personal security. Standard and consistent work practices will be documented, taught and enforced and tracking effectiveness of all policies will be in place.


In addition to the above best practices in evaluating temporary workers and writing contracts with the staffing agency chosen to work with, host employers should also provide temporary worker training and supervisor training. Further, injury and illness reporting, response and record keeping details and requirements are outlined by the CDC in this set of new best practices to better protect temporary workers.


The CDC shares that “additional information and resources regarding the joint safety and health responsibilities of host employers and staffing companies can be found on the OSHA Temporary Worker Initiative website.”


Also, note that these best practices are applicable across all industries and occupations. Real-life scenarios of how host employers can implement best practices and checklists are available to be printed or completed electronically. A slide deck is also available for staffing firms to use to educate their clients (host employers) on best practices and can learn more through the ASA Safety Matters web page.


Staffing agencies have quite a lot of paperwork and onboarding requirements to comply with for all of their temporary job candidates. Electronic employee onboarding saves time and frees resources for your other priorities and typically lowers the cost of bringing on someone new. Workplace safety and health information can be customized for your staffing agency to share with each new temporary worker. Contact COATS Staffing Software to learn more about our employee onboarding software solution today.