Top Five Health and Safety Tips for Staffing Firms
As a staffing firm, the health and safety of your contingent workers should be your number one priority. Not only is a deliberate focus on health and safety good for business, it’s also just the right thing to do. Worker health and safety is often cited as a top concern for businesses and employees, so it is important to ensure your contingent workers are abiding by all OSHA standards and standards specific to their job function. While most businesses provide a comprehensive health and safety program, it can not be assumed that your clients always do.
When deploying contingent workers at client locations, it is sometimes difficult to be sure of the environment they are entering. If your firm is deploying contingent workers to another site, you need to work with your clients to ensure your contingent workers will be working under a comprehensive health and safety program. As a global leader in workforce deployment solutions, People 2.0 manages over 23,000 contingent workers, many through our vast network of staffing firm affiliates. Based on our extensive experience working with staffing firms, here are our top five health and safety tips to consider as a staffing firm decision maker.
1. Implement a health and safety program and conduct basic health and safety training.
No matter where you are placing your contingent workers, your staffing firm should have its own health and safety program in place with an active joint health and safety committee. Your organization’s health and safety plan should be championed by senior management and all staff members at all levels should be aware of their role and responsibility as it relates to health and safety. If it is not possible or feasible to have a health and safety training program in place, your staffing firm should consider utilizing a third-party safety consultant or OSHA’s free on-site consultation service.
Through these programs, all contingent workers should receive general health and safety training from your staffing firm, including information on important items such as (but not limited to): WHMIS (Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System), PPE (personal protective equipment), accident/incident reporting, emergency response, first aid, and violence and harassment training. All health and safety program expectations must be clearly communicated to, and acknowledged by, contingent workers prior to starting their assignment. If your staffing client has their own health and safety program in place, then your contingent worker will need to complete both programs.
2. Conduct site and client-specific job hazard training.
Staffing firms need to ensure that client hosts are accurately identifying, assessing, and controlling hazards as an essential part of a properly functioning occupational health and safety program.
Enforcing health and safety policies and procedures should be a collaborative effort between your staffing firm and the client host. Typically, staffing firms provide general health and safety training, and the client host is responsible for site-specific training; however, staffing firms need to ensure that adequate training on potential hazards at a new job site is taking place and that the measures contingent workers can take to protect themselves are being effectively communicated. Staffing firms should take an active role in all aspects of health and safety programs for its contingent workers.
Staffing firms need not become experts on specific workplace hazards but should determine what conditions exist at the worksite, what hazards may be encountered, and how to best ensure protection for their workforce.
3. Establish an incident reporting and investigation program.
In the event of an accident of incident, it is important that your contingent workers know the process and their expectations for reporting it, as timeliness and communication can be critical in the hours following. Contingent workers also need to be provided with information on how to report an injury and obtain treatment, including emergency procedures. Because of this, it is imperative for the staffing firm and client host to have a comprehensive incident reporting and investigation program in place.
It is critical that both the staffing firm and host employer jointly conduct thorough investigations of injuries and illnesses, including incidents of close-calls, to determine what the root causes were, what immediate corrective actions are necessary, and what opportunities exist to improve injury and illness prevention programs. Open lines of communication must be pervasive between the staffing firm and the client host, especially in the event of an incident, and all parties should specify this incident communication procedure prior to work commencing. In the interest of improving process and eliminating existing work hazards, both the client host and staffing firm should track and investigate the cause of workplace injuries, and OSHA requires that injury and illness records be kept by the employer who is providing daily supervision (client host).
4. Conduct workplace inspections
Regular workplace inspections are an important part of the overall health and safety program at both a staffing firm and client host. Workplace inspections help prevent accidents and injuries for all workers, as well as proactively identify hazards that can be corrected. All parties should implement a written policy and procedures guideline, format, and schedule for completing the ongoing inspections.
When an inspection is complete, staffing firms should receive reports from client hosts verifying the safety of all contingent workers. Format and frequency of these reports should be established prior to commencing work. Staffing firms should review these reports in detail, and If there are any concerns resulting from them, the staffing firm should communicate with the client host to improve safe work practices, to gain insight about why incidents might occur, to identify the need for additional education and training, and to highlight any equipment that requires more in-depth hazard analysis.
5. Conduct an annual audit of the health and safety program.
It is critical for the staffing firm to ensure that their health and safety programs continue to meet or exceed the standards required by their state or governing authority through annual audits. These annual audits can be completed by a safety committee or through a third-party service provider. It also makes sense for your staffing firm to participate in partner programs that are usually provided through state commissions, OSHA, or your local/national governing body. These partnerships can help to measure a firm’s health and safety program against a recognized standard. This program assessment can help prepare for any official government audits or inspections and promotes continuous improvement and awareness of safety in the client host site. By conducting regular safety audits, employers may receive a certificate of recognition from an applicable governing authority and possibly receive rebates for associated premiums.
Partnering with a workforce deployment expert like People 2.0 can help you to develop a health and safety plan that encourages health and safety beyond government standards. As employment legislation and regulations continue to evolve, it is important to rely on a partner that has specific expertise in the locations and labor categories your contingent workforce is deployed.