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OSHA emphasizes joint liability for temporary worker safety

The use of temporary workers is common throughout New Jersey and the rest of the U.S. These days, staffing agencies supply workers for more than office or janitorial work. A good portion of temporary workers are used in factory settings, construction work and transportation industries, where the risk of industrial accidents are higher.

An issue that often arises with temporary workers is the determination of responsibility in the event of an injury or accident. Staffing agencies can attempt to shift blame to the host company and vice versa. When this shifting occurs, a hurt worker could be left in the lurch and delayed injury compensation. By utilizing a large portion of temporary workers, some companies may attempt to avoid the applicable safety regulations required for permanent employees.

The Occupational Health and Safety Administration takes an all-encompassing view of whether a worker is protected as an employee or a temporary worker. OSHA's position is that both the staffing company and the host company can be jointly liable for violations of its regulations. Though the administration recognizes that situations may be unique and determined on a case-by-case basis, it feels joint liability is the general rule.

Under joint liability, both parties can be subject to fines or other penalties in the event of a violation. OSHA may seek these penalties from one or both parties. Though to some in the industry, the joint liability rule may seem strict, OSHA is available for consultation if questions of responsibility arise. The federal agency stresses the needed for communication between the staffing firm and the host employer. Most importantly, OSHA reminds employers to emphasize safety measures based on the position rather than the categorization of the worker. A worker who is hurt while on the job may want to reach out to a lawyer.

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