U.S. workplaces are becoming less safe for employees by the year. Just recently, the Bureau…
Companies are turning to short-term labor now more than ever before to fulfill seasonal positions, meet production quotas and tackle other staffing needs. Temporary employees and independent contractors make it easy for them to scale their workforces up or down as they need to, and if a worker is not classified as a permanent worker, then there are often certain obligations that the employer can forego. But that does not mean that workers do not have rights.
Temporary workers—workers who work through staffing agencies—have many of the same rights as permanent workers. That includes the right to a safe workplace. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), all workers have the right to a workplace that is free from danger to the worker’s health and safety. Workers also have the right to report any work-related injuries or illnesses without the fear of retaliation by the employer. A worker has the right to receive on-the-job training in clear language that they can understand, the right to receive safety equipment to help them perform work according to guidelines, and perhaps most importantly, the right to speak up if they feel a situation or condition at the workplace is dangerous or unhealthy. Workers, including temporary workers, who feel an employer has violated any of these basic rights on the job site should contact OSHA right away.
Workers also have these workplace rights, notes OSHA:
OSHA considers the responsibility for compliance with its workplace health and safety requirements to fall on both the company hiring the temp worker and the staffing agency that serves as a liaison between the company and the worker. One way this is often accomplished, notes OSHA, is by having the staffing agency provide the worker with general safety and health training, while the employer provides specific training based on the equipment being used and any potential job hazards that are specific to the task being performed.
Staffing agencies have a duty, according to OSHA, to ensure that workers are assigned to safe job sites, while employers must take care to treat temp workers the same as permanent workers when it comes to training and health and safety precautions. While staffing agencies are not expected to become experts on particular workplace hazards for every company that they work with, they should always determine what conditions and hazards exist and how to provide protection for workers they assign to those companies.
If you believe your job is unsafe or think there is a danger to your health at work, then you can contact OSHA confidentially to discuss your situation. If you have been injured or have become ill due to your work, contact our Los Angeles workplace injuries attorney to discuss your legal rights.