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OSHA toughens temp safety stance

April 30 2013

An initiative to help protect temporary workers from workplace hazards was announced Monday by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The agency said it’s taking action after reports of temporary workers suffering fatal injuries.

The effort includes a memorandum sent to OSHA’s regional administrators directing field inspectors to assess whether employers who use temporary workers are complying with the law. To view the memo, click here.

Inspectors will use a newly created code in their information system to denote when temporary workers are exposed to safety and health violations. In addition, inspectors will assess whether temporary workers received required training in a language they could understand.

OSHA made the announcement on Workers’ Memorial Day.

“On Workers’ Memorial Day, we mourn the loss of the thousands of workers who die each year on the job from preventable hazards,” said David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. “Many of those killed and injured are temporary workers who often perform the most dangerous jobs, have limited English proficiency and are not receiving the training and protective measures required. Workers must be safe, whether they’ve been on the job for one day or for 25 years.”

OSHA said it received a series of reports about temporary workers suffering fatal injuries in recent months. Many were workers on the first days on the job.

The Center for Public Integrity in a report described the case of a temporary worker who died after being burned by chemicals in November 2011 in Chicago. The worker’s bosses refused to call 911, according to the center’s report.

The staffing buyer, Raani Corp. in Belford Park, Ill., received 14 safety and health violations from OSHA. The agency proposed $473,000 in penalties for Raani, which makes healthcare items, over-the-counter pharmaceuticals and household and salon products. The company employs approximately 150 workers, half of whom are temporary day workers, OSHA reported last July.

Earlier this year, OSHA cited Bacardi Bottling Corp. over the death of a temporary worker on his first day at work at a site in Jacksonville, Fla.

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