Safety training for temporary workers
 Aug. 23, 2013

Hiring temporary employees is often a necessary practice in order to meet a short-term increase in production requirements or a change in the nature of your operations. But, often times employers fail to realize these employees represent a change in their operations that creates an increased exposure to loss for the organization.

Temporary employees may bring necessary skills to your production process, but they usually are not familiar with the hazards fundamental to your business. Frequently, employers indicate they provide temporary workers with little in the way of safety training because they are a short term need.

Even though temporary employees may receive safety training from their staffing agency, you should still provide a safety orientation specific to your workplace. Never assume that the training they received elsewhere is sufficient to address the hazards inherent to your operation. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) the 2.5 million temporary or contingent workers account for about 12 percent of the workplace fatalities reported each year. This is a disproportionately high percentage for this class of employees.

OSHA on both the federal and California level are concerned about injuries to temporary workers. There is a surprisingly large number of temporary employees that are injured fatally on their brief assignments annually. During inspections Cal/OSHA will ask specifically what type of temporary work assignments might be part of your manufacturing process and what safety training is provided to temporary workers? As with all employees, they will evaluate whether or not those temporary workers receive training in a language they can understand.

Usually the contract with the staffing agency will transfer liability for losses associated with injuries to temporary workers to the staffing agency. That transfer of liability for loss is a routine part of contracting for temporary labor. It provides a the organizationís ?measure of protection of assets, but employers have a moral responsibility to also protect the health of all workers associated with your organization be they full-time, part-time or temporary workers.

If temporary workers are not going to undergo the same safety training as regular full-time employees, a practice should be in place to ensure that at least the following takes place:

  • they should be advised as to what to do in the event they are injured on the job and they understand where first aid materials are stored in the area where they are working. In addition, the location of eye wash stations must be clearly identified and should be included in their orientation
  • they should be provided with an overview of chemicals used and stored in their work area including access to the material safety data sheets with all required personal protective equipment associated with their work function

The use of temporary employees is playing a greater role in the manufacturing process. They're critical to helping operations meet short-term production increases. Ensuring these workers receive proper safety training will improve the chances greatly that they will not be injured on the job and may keep them from inadvertently injuring someone else. For more information on safety training for temporary employees contact CMTA at


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