CONTRACTORS & TEMPORARY PERSONNEL: Who’s Responsible for Safety?

By: Monica Meyer


New Jersey: Temporary worker died in fall after being caught in a sorter.
San Francisco: Temporary worker at a facility that sorts packages died after being crushed by equipment.
Illinois: Temporary worker died after forklift he was operating fell between truck and dock.

Headlines like these are far too common and ever increasing.  Not surprisingly, there is a growing body of research showing temporary workers are at greater risk of workplace injury and illness than non-temps. The research points to a range of factors for the increased risk. The two leading factors, according to the literature, are:

  1. lack of job information and safety training for temps increasingly employed in dangerous occupations, and
  2. employer financial and performance incentives around workers’ compensation and other benefits.


Both host employers and staffing agencies have roles in complying with workplace health and safety requirements and they share responsibility for ensuring worker safety and health.  Read more on OSHA’s stance at

CONTRACTORS:  When multiple employers are involved on a project, determining who is responsible for compliance with safety rules can be complicated.

Follow OSHA’s Basic Rule of Thumb


There are OSHA standards that specifically address contractor and multiemployer situations.  Here are 3 that are common to many types of workplaces:



TEMPORARY PERSONNEL: How do OSHA requirements apply to you when workers exposed to hazards at your workplace are temporary workers employed by a temp agency or subcontractors?

Take this online quiz to find out:

The one blaring issue is a lack of training for temps.  When compared alongside the fatality figures, it is an absurd oversight that many employers still choose to turn their heads.  Temporary employees fill a necessary gap for companies.  Their safety should not be any less important.

Protect all employees and the financial and ethical health of your business and contact EHS Support for more information and advice about risk management and safety training.

“Host employers need to treat temporary workers as they treat existing employees. Temporary staffing agencies and host employers share control over the employee, and are therefore jointly responsible for temp employee’s safety and health. It is essential that both employers comply with all relevant OSHA requirements.” – David Michaels, PhD, MPH, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health

Over the past 16 years, Monica Meyer has been providing strategic and business safety experience to the organizations she supported.  During this time, she focused on development of both corporate and facility level Health and Safety programs, developing systems for both compliance and risk management. 
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