Temp training: Whose job is it?

Roughly a year ago, in May 2009, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. was cited by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration over the death of a temporary worker, who was trampled by shoppers when opening the store on Nov. 28, 2008, the day after Thanksgiving. The agency cited lack of training and tools.

Although such extreme incidents are rare, at least one study found temporary workers in manufacturing jobs were two to three times as likely to suffer an injury. It would not be unexpected given that anyone just starting in a job -- as temps pretty much always are -- would be less aware of procedures and safety issues than someone who had been on the job awhile.

So what can staffing firms do to protect their temps? Some avoid sending temps into risky situations in the first place. Other make it their business to see to it temps get proper onsite orientation.

Temp training matters with respect to job performance as well. In late April 2010, McNeil Consumer Healthcare voluntarily recalled children's Tylenol and other pediatric medicines due to quality control problems. How did those problems come about? It appears temporary workers involved in the production process may not have been properly trained.

Not all temporary staffing firms provide much training [INSIGHT - Testing, Training and Benefits for Temporary Workers 8/31/2007], but a couple of firms made the news recently for their training offerings.

According to a May 20 report, Manpower provides access to 4,500 online training courses to people who apply for a job through the company.

Meanwhile, Japan-based staffing firm Pasona Group set up a rice paddy and other farm plants at a downtown Tokyo site as an effort to get people into agricultural jobs.

Such efforts are laudable. They help everyone, and also raise the profile of the industry.

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