Supervising employer responsible for recording temporary worker injuries and illnesses

When a temporary worker gets injured on the job, a game of hot potato sometimes ensues between the staffing agency that supplies the worker and the host employer. Both parties can be reluctant to claim recordkeeping responsibility, each considering the other to be the worker’s “real” employer.

In a new educational bulletin, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) clarifies who is responsible for recording temporary employees’ work-related injuries and illnesses on the OSHA-300 log. The bulletin explains that the staffing agency and host employer jointly employ temporary workers and share a certain degree of responsibility for conditions of employment and legal compliance.  Nonetheless, only one employer should record a temporary worker’s injury or illness. In most cases, OSHA says, the host employer is the responsible party.

Supervision is the deciding factor

The key to determining recordkeeping responsibility lies in supervision. The employer considered responsible for recording work-related illnesses or injuries:

  •  supervises a temporary worker on a day-to-day basis
  • controls conditions presenting potential hazards
  • directs the worker’s activities around, and exposure to, those hazards

Day-to-day supervision is defined as when “the employer supervises the details, means and methods and processes by which the work is to be accomplished.” Using this definition, there is a high likelihood that the host employer, not the staffing agency, will have a greater degree of supervisory responsibility. Even if the staffing agency has a representative at the worksite, as long as the host company retains supervisory control, it is responsible for recording injuries and illnesses.

Employers must share information

The staffing agency isn’t free of responsibility, however. Staffing agencies have a duty to stay in frequent contact with temporary employees and the host employer to ensure that injuries and illnesses are accurately recorded and hazardous conditions in the workplace are identified.

Staffing agencies should also work with the host employer to establish a seamless notification procedure for the mutual exchange on information on any work-related illnesses or injuries experienced by temporary workers. In this way, employers can be cognizant of potential workplace hazards, take steps to eliminate them, and provide appropriate training and/or protective equipment to workers to prevent exposures.

The bulletin is the first in a series of guidance documents to be published as part of OSHA’s Temporary Worker Initiative. The initiative was launched last year in conjunction with Workers’ Memorial Day, an annual observance held on April 28 to honor workers who have died on the job and promote a renewed commitment to safe and healthy workplaces.

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