November 23, 2014 • 1:17 pm
By Phil La Duke
Just a couple of brief topics before I get into this weeks’ post. First, it is with sadness that I announce the death of my uncle. Robert P. LaDuke died this week, another casualty of workplace illness. Uncle Bob had been suffering with mesothelioma. The bastards who knew it would kill workers but concealed this fact to protect profits remain at large. No one will ever be held accountable for his or her depraved indifference. The lawsuits (that George W. Bush derided as frivolous) will never come close to allaying the enormous human suffering these people caused. Were we in China they would have been taken to a sports stadium and shot dead. May God have mercy on their souls;. I mention this not as a ploy for sympathy but as a reminder that the death toll will continue to rise, not just from asbestos but from hazards not yet known or imagined. At any rate, RIP Uncle Bob.
On a much lighter note, I have started a new group on LinkedIn: Best Practices in Health and Safety. I’m envisioning it as a place where safety practitioners can go to get and share the best practices and thought leadership in worker safety. I won’t tolerate commercials and promotions so I think it will be worthwhile; at very least I won’t have some half-wit deciding that I can’t post links to my blog to the discussion groups.
Also, my abstract to speak at the National Safety Council’s Texas Safety Conference and Expo in Austin next March. I will be speaking on the role that social networks can play in safety and I think it will be a spirited, lively presentation.
There WILL be a post today, but right now I have to watch football
Filed under: Safety
October 28, 2014 • 4:27 pm
By Phil LaDuke
This week I attended EH&S Today magazine’s Safety Leadership Conference, which may be, by the way, the best kept secret in safety conferences, but an outstanding place to hear from thought leaders in safety talk in depth about some of the emerging challenges to safety. I was, for a change, an attendee and except for a 2:43 welcome and opening comments at a speaker appreciation dinner did not speak at the event.
The first session I attended was in the compliance track, and it was called They’re Not My Employees: The Practical and Legal Pitfalls Involving Temporary Employee Safety. Compliance tracks at conferences tend to be mind-numbingly dull and unduly complicated affairs that usually have the participants praying to die, but thanks to the folks at Fisher & Phililips LLP (who sponsors the compliance track) the two sessions I attended were lively and dare I say it? engaging, even entertaining. They’re Not My Employees: The Practical and Legal Pitfalls Involving Temporary Employee Safety was no exception. Moderated by Victor Geraci and presented by and Ed Foulke, ( both are partners at Fisher & Phillips), and General Counsel to the American Staffing Association, Stephen Dwyer, this session had more than its fair share of good advice for anyone who uses temporary workers. Here’s what I took away from the presentation:
- The safety of temporary workers is, and will increasingly be, an OSHA focus. The co-employment avoidance defense (the practice of host companies claiming that if they were to train contractors or temporary workers as if they were their own workers could jeopardize the “temporary” status of workers and subject them to IRS penalties and fines) no longer holds up. According to Foulke (as far as safety is concerned) “You essentially have to treat temporary workers as if they were your own” says Fouke.
- It doesn’t matter that temporary workers come and go so quickly that you can’t cost-effectively train them. OSHA has released memoranda’s that tells OSHA inspectors to assess the compliance of staffing firms and host employers. The memoranda also create a new code that identifies instances where temporary workers are exposed to safety and health violations and to determine whether or not temporary workers received required training. Furthermore OSHA inspectors will assess the extent to which the training was delivered in a language and using a vocabulary the temporary workers could understand.
- An on-site administrator from the temp agency doesn’t count as supervising the temporary employee. Many host companies erroneously believe that having a representative from the temp agency on-site meets the standard for providing supervision. It’s an easy mistake to make, since often times the administrator in question handles time keeping, benefits questions, who’s working when and where. But in OSHA’s eyes, supervision is usually the responsibility of the host company. OSHA’s reasoning being that a temp agency administrator is not able to ensure site safety because they lack the authority to stop work; the host company has the most control over the workplace and is thus responsible for keeping it safe.
“Host employers need to treat temporary workers as they treat existing employees. Temporary staffing agencies and host employers share control over the employee, and are therefore jointly responsible for temp employee’s safety and health. It is essential that both employers comply with all relevant OSHA requirements.”
David Michaels, PhD, MPH, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health
- It doesn’t matter how short the tenure of the temporary worker is you have to abide by the law. The host company is on the hook for providing (with some exceptions) the temporary worker with all required PPE, and has to provide temporary workers with training that is identical or equivalent to the training it provides its own employees regardless of the length of employment. This is sure to frustrate host employers who may have exceptionally high turnover rates among temporary hires, but the law is the law. Of course this may ecourage some companies who engage in the 90 days and out employment practices where they continually churn temporary employees to hire the workers as full time employees instead of temporary workers, but time will only tell.
- Read the contract between you and your temp agency. The contract between the temp agency and the host company will probably spell out some of the “who does what?” of training so you had better read and understand it. Unless you know for certain that the other company has provided the training you will be on the hook for doing it.
- This issue isn’t going away. Victor Geraci quoted David Michaels as saying “A worker’s first day on the job shouldn’t be their last day on the planet”. The proliferation of temporary workers and the upswing in the deaths and serious injuries of temporary workers has made OSHA take a hard look at how employers (whether employers of record or host companies) ensure the safety of temporary workers this issue is emerging and will likely change the face of the temporary worker industry.
OSHA as put out a resource for helping companies to protect temporary workers and it’s worth reading https://www.osha.gov/temp_workers/
Filed under: Safety
October 24, 2014 • 1:09 pm
Originally posted on EHS Safety News America:
On October 20, OSHA issued a National Emphasis Program (NEP) for Primary Metal Industries. The NEP is intended to identify and reduce or eliminate worker exposure to harmful chemical and physical health hazards in facilities in those industries.
OSHA says that individuals employed in the primary metal industries (smelting and refining of ferrous and nonferrous metals) are exposed to serious safety and health hazards on a daily basis including chemical exposures as well as physical stressors such as noise and heat.
In fact, data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries showed that five of the top 20 industries with non-fatal occupational injury and illnesses cases were in these industries. In addition, previous inspections of primary metal establishments have resulted in citations for overexposure to a wide variety of health hazards including chemical exposures. Chemical exposures found in these facilities include carbon monoxide, lead, silica, metal…
View original 350 more words
Filed under: Safety