Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed into law last week legislation intended to prevent injuries to temporary workers from staffing firms, Washington State Wire reports. The law, SHB 1206, takes effect July 25.
Labor and business groups, temporary staffing firms and the Department of Labor & Industries collaborated with lawmakers on the legislation, said bill sponsor Rep. Liz Berry, D-Seattle. “All Washington workers deserve to be safe at work. This bill will literally save lives and limbs.”
The law requires increased communication between staffing agencies and worksite employers that will close safety and training gaps for temporary workers.
Buyer obligations. Prior to the start of an assignment, worksite employers must document and inform the staffing agency about anticipated job hazards likely encountered by the worker; review the safety and health awareness training provided by the staffing agency to determine if it addresses recognized hazards for the worksite employer’s industry; provide specific training tailored to the particular hazards at their workplaces; and document and maintain records of site-specific training and provide confirmation that the training occurred to the staffing agency within three business days of providing the training.
If the worker’s job tasks or work location changes and new hazards may be encountered, the worksite employer must inform both the staffing agency and the employee of job hazards not previously covered before the employee undertakes the new tasks and update personal protective equipment and training for the new job tasks, if necessary.
Provider obligations. Before the assignment of an employee to a worksite employer, a staffing agency must inquire about the worksite employer’s safety and health practices and hazards at the actual workplace to assess the safety conditions, worker’s tasks and the worksite employer’s safety program.
The staffing firm must provide general awareness safety training to the employee for recognized industry hazards the employee may encounter at the worksite. Industry hazard training must be completed, in the preferred language of the employee, and must be provided at no expense to the employee.
If the staffing firm becomes aware of existing job hazards that are not mitigated by the worksite employer, the firm must make the host employer aware, urge the host employer to correct it, and document these efforts; otherwise, the staffing agency must remove the temporary workers from the worksite.
The staffing firm must maintain the training date and content and provide it to the temporary workers upon request; transmit a general description of the training program to the worksite employer at the start of the contract, provide the state Department of Labor & Industry’s hotline number for the employee to call to report safety hazards and concerns as part of the employment materials provided to the employee; and inform the employee who the employee should report safety concerns to at the workplace.
“This law is a major achievement and provides a blueprint for the rest of the country to follow,” said Dave DeSario, director of Temp Worker Justice. “These protections are the strongest in the nation for workers hired by temporary staffing agencies for highly hazardous jobs in construction and manufacturing. The new requirements will prevent hundreds of injuries.”