The Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued two new guidance bulletins as part of its Temporary Worker Initiative. OSHA launched its Temporary Worker Initiative three years ago after receiving numerous reports on temp worker fatalities just days into new assignments.

The first new bulletin describes what staffing firms and host employers can do to provide safety and health training to their temporary workers. The second explains the employers’ responsibilities in communicating information on any hazardous chemicals to which the workers might be exposed.

Safety and health training. Both employer organizations share responsibility for training temporary workers on health and safety matters at the worksite. The training must be completed before the worker begins the assignment and must be provided in a language the worker understands.

While the staffing firm and host employer may work out how to divide such training between them, “neither employer may avoid their ultimate responsibilities under the OSH Act by requiring another party to perform them,” according to the bulletin.

In most cases, OSHA will expect the host employer to have provided training specific to the job site, while the staffing firm is responsible for more generic training. Both employers should ensure temp workers are aware of the reporting process in event of an injury.

Hazardous materials. As with safety and health training, hazard training must be completed prior to the beginning of the assignment. Both employers share responsibility to ensure it is provided.

The host employer, being most familiar with the worksite and the hazards involved, are primarily responsible for site-specific training. They must identify and communicate information about worksite-specific chemical hazards, ensure chemical containers are appropriately labeled, and provide access to personal protective equipment and safety data sheets.

Training from staffing firms would be more generic, including identifying warning labels, how to read a safety data sheet, and basic information on how to identify a hazardous chemical. Staffing firms must also ensure the workers understand their rights when hazardous chemicals are present. The staffing firms must also verify that the host employer is meeting its obligations to the workers.

The full bulletins for Safety and Health as well as Hazard Communication are online.