A staffing agency has the duty to inquire and verify that a host employer is compliant, and both may be held responsible for any violations, according to OSHA.

OSHA has announced a five-year partnership renewal with the American Staffing Association in order to educate temporary workers and staffing agencies about compliance and safe practices.

“Protecting and enhancing temporary worker safety and well-being is a top priority of ASA and its member companies,” said Stephen C. Dwyer, Esq., ASA general counsel in a statement. “ASA greatly values its alliance with OSHA, and looks forward to continuing to work together in support of this important goal for the staffing industry.”

Through the alliance, OSHA and ASA will:

  • Develop information on the recognition and prevention of workplace hazards and communicate such information to staffing firms, host employers, and temporary workers.
  • Speak, exhibit, or appear at OSHA or ASA conferences, local meetings, or other events.
  • Share information among OSHA personnel and industry safety and health professionals regarding temporary worker safety best practices.

"Through our continued alliance with the ASA, we will increase outreach to staffing agencies and host employers and provide information and education that is essential to protecting temporary workers,” said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor, OSHA.

OSHA's Alliance is Questioned

Despite ASA's perceived efforts, the National Council of Occupational Safety and Health released a statement saying ASA is failing to meet its agreement with OSHA.

"But with almost no content on safety at their annual conference, and no worker representatives on the organization’s safety committee, it is unclear whether ASA is fulfilling the terms of its partnership," the organization said in a statement.

In a review of ASA's Staffing World 2016 workshops, penaries and panels, safety was detailed only in one session throughout the three-day conference - a tour of the San Diego Convention Center.

In addition, ASA's Employee Safety Committee members are management representatives, not employees, despite OSHA's requirement to have worker participation in an alliance, said Dave DeSario, a former temp employee and producer of “A Day’s Work,” a film about the death of temporary worker Day Davis. 

“We’ve learned time and again that the way to make workplaces safer is to empower workers,” said Lou Kimmel, executive director of New Labor, a New Jersey-based workers’ center that assists temporary workers, immigrants and undocumented workers in organizing to improve their working conditions in a statement. “Workers know where the problems are and they know how to fix them. When we organize, workers can win their right to a safe workplace, so everyone can go home safely to their families.”

A New Partnership

The ASA also has announced a new safety initiative with the National Safety Council called the Safety Standard of Excellence.

"Because temporary workers are placed in a variety of work settings in many different industries, and often for multiple staffing clients, it is critical that their safety be a priority. Staffing firms desiring to lead the industry in protection of temporary workers should take part in this program,” said Amy K. Harper, Ph.D., National Safety Council director of workplace strategy and Journey to Safety Excellence in a statement.

With the new program, staffing firms have a chance to solidify their commitment to safety through certification with NSC. Staffing agencies that apply will undergo “rigorous” assessment with NSC consultants using best practice criteria such as the firm’s ability to coordinate and collaborate with the host employer.

Firms scoring high enough will earn the right to use a special program mark that communicates their dedication to the safety of the workers they place, according to the NSC.

 “By participating in the Safety Standard of Excellence program, staffing firms can be better equipped to avoid workplace hazards and incidents, and partner with clients to foster safer, healthier workplaces,” said Stephen Dwyer, ASA general counsel in a statement.