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This holiday season, temporary workers wish for no injuries or deaths

Next week, families in New York and throughout the U.S. will gather to celebrate and give thanks during the Thanksgiving holiday. Shortly thereafter, many will head out to stand in lines at actual brick-and-mortar stores or visit their favorite retailer's website to take advantage of Black Friday shopping deals and kickoff the 2015 holiday shopping season.

In preparation for the retail spending whirlwind that is quickly approaching, retailers throughout the U.S. are busy hiring temporary workers to ring up customers, ensure warehouse shelves are stocked and to fulfill customer orders. Wired recently reported that Amazon alone plans to hire approximately 100,000 temporary workers at fulfillment and warehouse facilities across the U.S., a number which represents a 25 percent increase over the number of temp workers hired just last year.

For temporary workers especially, the frenetic pace with which both staffing and host companies expect workers to perform assigned job duties coupled with the fact that they often receive minimal on-the-job training, can be a recipe for disaster. This fact is evidenced by numerous reports of temporary worker injuries and deaths in recent years and resulted in the Occupational Safety and Health Administration establishing recommendations outlining the responsibilities of both a host employer and staffing agency with regard to ensuring temp workers receive adequate safety information and training.

OSHA states that host employers and staffing agencies share a joint responsibility "for maintaining a safe work environment for temporary workers." While OSHA reiterates that both employers are legally responsible for ensuring that they are compliant with all OSHA regulations, the agency encourages host and staffing employers to communicate and work out the specifics of which entity is responsible for specific trainings and to ensure that such details are clearly outlined in a contract.

Sadly, as both staffing agencies and host employers attempt to ensure that they are compliant with OSHA regulations and also protected from any liability for temporary worker injuries and deaths, it will likely continue to be temporary workers who are forgotten in the equation.

Source: OSHA.gov, "Protecting Temporary Employees," Nov. 19, 2015

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