The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has taken steps to protect the safety of temporary workers that include joint shared responsibility between the hosting employer and the staffing firm. Under OSHA regulations, temporary staffing firms can be held responsible for unsafe working conditions at the companies in which their employees perform duties. This could lead to significant fines and penalties for temporary agencies that do not maintain strict compliance with OSHA requirements. For workers who have sustained serious injuries on the job, retaining the services of an experienced Houston work injury attorney can ensure a fair settlement and adequate compensation both in and out of the courtroom.
Requirements for Temporary Staffing Companies
To stay on the right side of OSHA regulations, temporary staffing firms must perform a fair amount of due diligence on their client companies:
- Temp firms must check on the working conditions and environment of each company to which they send workers. If safety violations are identified, they must be corrected by the host employer before workers are sent to these locations.
- A one-time check is not enough to ensure worker safety. Temporary staffing agencies must make regular checks and maintain communication with their client companies to determine that safety standards are being met.
- Claiming ignorance of the conditions in which workers are asked to perform their duties will not serve as a mitigating factor in determining responsibility.
- Host employers must provide the same safety training and equipment for temporary workers as would be available to full-time employees in the workplace.
By assigning joint responsibility to staffing agencies and the host employers they supply, OSHA hopes to create safer conditions for temporary workers and to reduce the incidence of serious accidents in the workplace.
An Ongoing Problem
In 2011, the federal Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries began tracking the number of contract workers who lost their lives on the job. According to the 2013 figures released by this department of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), temporary contract worker deaths accounted for approximately 17 percent of all workplace deaths nationwide. Many of these deaths could have been avoided with the proper use of safety equipment and normal precautions in the working environment. For instance, 31 percent of the fatal accidents involving contract workers were due to falls. When used properly, fall arrest and protection equipment could have prevented this tragic loss of life.
Protecting Texas Workers
According to figures released by the BLS in late 2014, Texas ranked first in the nation in 2013 workplace fatalities with 493 people losing their lives on the job during that year. Oil and gas energy companies were especially prone to contractor injuries or deaths. Lack of proper safety equipment and training are considered key factors in these accidents, many of which occurred during the first days or weeks of employment in these high-risk environments. By holding both the staffing agencies and the direct workplace employers responsible for ensuring that workers are well versed in safety procedures and that they perform their duties properly and with the right equipment, OSHA hopes to ensure greater protections for contract workers in Texas and across the U.S.
For victims and their families, working with an attorney who specializes in Houston wrongful death cases can help in achieving closure and in holding employers responsible for their failures and negligence in the working environment. A qualified and knowledgeable Houston personal injury attorney can provide expert representation and guidance in navigating the various legal requirements involved in reaching a settlement or in taking Texas corporations to court. By entrusting your case to these skilled and dedicated professionals, you can ensure the most positive outcome possible for your workplace injury or wrongful death claim.