Site safety was the subject at hand during the panel “Protecting Temporary Worker Welfare: Harassment and Work Site Safety Investigations” at the recent Staffing Law Conference, as panelists from Staffmark and Elwood Staffing Company weighed in on the best ways to ensure work site safety. Below are the biggest takeaways from that session.
Good work site safety starts with training. Staffing firms must make sure they fully understand what a safe workplace is and then train their clients and temporary workers on it, as well. The expectation should be set up-front that if there is an accident, it will be investigated.
Be a resource for clients. Partner with your clients to make sure you both understand what areas of their work place could be at risk and offer value added assistance and guidance to make sure they are in compliance and your employees are in a safe environment. Also, understand what is most important to your client as it relates to safety. Is it reducing cost and workers comp claims? Social responsibility? The relationship often starts with your sales team. Instruct them to ask potential new clients about their safety program before the contract is signed – if they have a good safety program, they will want to talk about it!
Set rules and guidelines from the start. In your contract with the client, you should have language that outlines the main idea that both parties agree to abide by federal, state and local laws. Stipulate any task you don’t want your temp worker to partake in because 1) it is dangerous or 2) the temp worker hasn’t been trained on or screened for to complete. A “prohibitive task list” may also be included. Work with your client to remove language including “general labor” or “whatever else is assigned” in your employee’s job description. This will help your employee avoid having to partake in unknown (and potentially dangerous) tasks.
What to do when problems arise:
Safety investigations are very important, because they identify the root cause, lead to a solution being implemented, and ultimately prevent recurrence. If an issue does occur, work with a contact in your client’s office who understands the organization’s legal obligations under the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
Recommendations for an investigation:
- Look for the cause, not the problem. The corrective action must be meaningful and solve the problem.
- Be available and present during the investigation and involve the client. For example, the client can’t let go of the temp employee involved in the situation and “wash their hands of the issue.” Other individuals involved in the situation (a manager employed by your client, as an example) must be dealt with as well.
- Encourage your client to report all claims as early as possible – this will help control costs and ensure the injured party gets proper treatment as soon as possible.
- Follow up and advise on ongoing education for your client.
For further information on the importance of work site safety, visit the Department of Labor’s page on workplace safety and health, which provides links to articles and resources for operating and managing workplace safety practices.Related
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