The Occupational Safety and Health Administration seems to be issuing a new press release every day citing a company for violating safety regulations, and fining them hundreds of thousands of dollars for OSHA citations in the process.
A closer analysis of these press releases reveals that many of these OSHA citations not only target the company that owns the facility, but also their staffing provider.
For example, Schwan's, their staffing agency, and their service company were all cited recently for serious health and safety violation and were fined $264,360. The inspectors felt that workers did not receive sufficient training to work with ammonia. Furthermore, the companies were cited for not providing personal protective equipment that fit properly, as well as exposing workers to high levels of noise and unguarded machines.
Why Are Companies At Greater Risk When Using Staffing Agencies?
A common problem with staffing agencies is that when the agreement is made, it's never clearly established which party is responsible for providing training. This leads to problems such as the one above, where the OSHA inspectors feel that workers haven't been adequately trained for the job they are supposed to perform.
A staffing agency isn't as invested in ensuring the success of the company. They are more interested in placing personnel, which is why they usually limit themselves to reading through the company's safety documentation without ever providing the required training onsite, in the work environment.
Even if they were to provide the necessary training, most don't have any form of safety monitoring and auditing. So, they could provide the training but with no form of supervision, there is no guarantee the workers will comply.
Safety issues are also caused by high turnover rates. With an average national turnover of 294%, staffing agencies push new associates through the training process as quickly as possible so they can meet demand, which leads to safety problems.
Despite the fact that staffing agencies are covered for worker's compensation liability, they aren't responsible for keeping an OSHA 300 log, or a "Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses." This means that there is no accountability in terms of OSHA compliance or inspections.
What Is the Solution?
Minimizing risk is all about choosing the right flexible labor strategy. There are many factors to analyze, including the turnover rate. For example, a staffing agency with a high turnover will lead to your company having to deal with new associates on site all the time, which increases the risk of occupational injury.
Many companies are turning to agencies like Insource, which uses a managed service model. In other words, there is always leadership present onsite who is responsible for providing detailed safety training, maintaining an OSHA 300 log, and auditing safety conditions.
Even in terms of turnover rates, such partners are a much better option because Insource, for example, has a turnover rate that is one third that of a traditional staffing agency. Insource also rewards associates for safety accomplishments and publishes them throughout the entire organization, thereby making associates highly aware of the importance of safety. The company has also incorporated a safety measure into associates' scorecards so that safety now plays an important role in how they are incentivized, and not just their accomplishment of productivity goals and their attendance.
To ensure you are fully OSHA compliant and to avoid unexpected problems caused by staffing agencies, you should consider a flexible labor partner who has made safety a culture across the entire organization. Furthermore, one offering a dedicated safety manager along with clear deliverables and goals is essential.