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Protecting Temporary Workers

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Temporary agency workers (“temporary workers”) are paid by a staffing company and assigned to a host employer. Temporary workers can have short- or long-term assignments. Research indicates that they may be at higher risk of work-related injury than permanent employees1-3. Take steps to create a safe and healthy workplace for temporary workers.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), host employers are responsible for protecting the safety and health of all workers, including temporary workers.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and partners recently published a document to help host employers protect the safety and health of temporary workers, Protecting temporary workers: best practices for host employers.

The best practices are organized into three sections:

  1. Evaluation and contracting
  2. Training for temporary workers and their worksite supervisors
  3. Injury and illness reporting, response, and recordkeeping

Register to attend a webinar introducing the new resource, “Protecting Temporary Workers: Best Practices for Host Employers” on August 30, 2022 at 11 a.m. ET.

Evaluation and contracting

Host employers and staffing companies should evaluate all facets of safety and health for the jobs temporary workers are hired to perform. Key activities for host employers include:

  • Conducting a joint risk assessment with staffing companies
  • Providing staffing companies with safety information
  • Allowing staffing companies to assess safety conditions at host worksites
  • Ensuring staffing companies’ commitment to safety and health

Host employers and staffing companies should divide responsibilities for temporary workers’ safety and health in a written contract specifying:

  • Job details (such as temporary workers’ tasks, anticipated hazards and controls in place, training each employer will provide, and personal protective equipment [PPE] responsibilities)
  • Communication and documentation responsibilities (such as the processes for changing job tasks and telling staffing companies about changes to hazards)
  • Injury and illness reporting, response, and recordkeeping responsibilities
  • Other aspects of workplace safety and health (such as workers’ compensation and which employer is responsible for directly supervising temporary workers)

Training for temporary workers and their worksite supervisors

Host employers should provide site- and task-specific training in a language and vocabulary that temporary workers understand on topics including:

  • Approved tasks
  • Hazard identification and control
  • PPE
  • OSHA laws
  • First aid
  • Emergency procedures
  • Reporting safety and health incidents and concerns
  • Accessing secure sites
  • Safety and health program participation

Host employers should also:

  • Assess knowledge to make sure temporary workers understand training
  • Document training
  • Evaluate staffing company training materials
  • Train supervisors on:
    • Approved tasks for temporary workers
    • The process for changing job tasks
    • Mentoring and supervision
    • OSHA laws
    • Communication and reporting
    • Joint responsibilities of the host employer and staffing company

Injury and illness reporting, response, and recordkeeping

Host employer responsibilities if a temporary worker experiences an injury or illness include:

  • Reporting
    • Promote injury and illness reporting by temporary workers
    • Inform the staffing company of the incident
    • Report to OSHA
  • Response
    • Conduct joint incident investigations
    • Coordinate medical treatment and return to work
  • Recordkeeping
    • Record on OSHA 300 Log
    • Complete staffing company documentation
    • Fulfill records requests

The best practices can be applied to any job. The document also includes checklists for each section, which can be completed electronically. By following these best practices, host employers can help ensure a safe, healthy, and productive workforce.


  1. Al-Tarawneh IS, Wurzelbacher SJ, Bertke SJ [2020]. Comparative analysis of workers’ compensation claims of injury among temporary and permanent employed workers in Ohio. Am J Ind Med 63:3–22.
  2. Foley M [2017]. Factors underlying observed injury rate differences between temporary workers and permanent peers. Am J Ind Med 60(10):841–851.
  3. Howard J [2017]. Nonstandard work arrangements and worker health and safety. Am J Ind Med 60:1–10.