New COSHOs, More Inspections: Make sure you’re ready

Staffing firms are bracing themselves for more inspections as the new administration ramps up its enforcement. The Biden Administration has reinvigorated the mostly dormant Trump Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

The ramp up also includes new Certified Occupational Safety and Health Officials (COSHO), who have very little knowledge of how the staffing firm/client relationship works. The result: citations incorrectly issued against staffing firms for violations of the regulations and contract terms.

Staffing firms say it’s up to the staffing industry to educate not only the COSHOs, but to make sure they’re own temporary employees know what tasks they’re performing and what they’re function is at a worksite. For example, it’s always been a challenge defining and enforcing which entity has the supervisory or management role. This determines who is responsible for occupational safely and health compliance and any injuries sustained on the worksite.

Some staffing firms recommend not using the terms supervisor or manager in job descriptions, if a temporary employee is on-site simply to provide guidance or coaching of temporary employees. Others also recommend that temporary employees understand exactly what functions they’re performing and what they’re trained or qualified to do and what NOT to do.

With this information, the COSHO will have an idea of what the staffing firm employees are responsible for versus the client, should an inspector show up for either a planned or a snap inspection. Here are some other preparation tips:

  • Find out what the inspection is about. Is it just a random inspection or has there been a complaint or injury. Get your relevant personnel involved in the opening conference to find out the the scope and details of the inspection.
  • Assign a point of contact to interact directly with the OSHA inspector. This person will provide all documents and answer all questions pertaining to the function of temporary employees. Make sure that your employees know who it is and can direct inspectors to the right person.
  • Acquaint the new inspectors with the latest documents and guidance from OSHA. OSHA has written several Temporary Worker Initiative (TWI) documents on a number of topics including exposure to heat related hazards, bloodborne pathogens, and injury and illness record-keeping requirements.
  • Keep procedural documents handy for the OSHA inspectors. One such document, Best Practices for Host Employers is available on the OSHA website, and includes procedures, tips, and checklists that host employers are supposed to follow. Host employers providing direct supervision and control are responsible for the safety and health of all workers on site whether temporary or permanent. Go over the procedure for how temporary employees are supposed to report injuries and illnesses, and the responsibility of the host employer to report those incidents in their OSHA 300 Logs
  • Follow up with OSHA. Some temporary firms have reported that staffing firms may be included in the conversation with the the host employer and COSHO regarding the details of the inspection, even if they’re not involved. The lack of understanding about the role of temporary employees may result in unwarranted citations.
  • Go over safety protocols and requirements. The host employer is responsible for enforcing safety requirements on-site. Make sure your temporary employees are well-versed in the rules and requirements. Confirm that proper training has been done by either the host employer or the staffing firm. It is wise to do a walk-through before a scheduled inspection. And, you want to have all these bases covered in the event of a snap inspection.
  • Do an occasional walk-through of the worksite to confirm all safety requirements are in place, and ask your temporary employees to report any concerns. They should be able to do this without fear of retaliation.