[Excerpt] Workers employed through staffing agencies are generally called temporary or supplied workers. For the purposes of these recommended practices, “temporary workers” are those supplied to a host employer and paid by a staffing agency, whether or not the job is actually temporary. Whether temporary or permanent, all workers always have a right to a safe and healthy workplace. The staffing agency and the staffing agency’s client (the host employer) are joint employers of temporary workers and, therefore, both are responsible for providing and maintaining a safe work environment for those workers. The staffing agency and the host employer must work together to ensure that the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (the OSH Act) requirements are fully met. See 29 U.S.C. § 651. The extent of the obligations of each employer will vary depending on workplace conditions and should therefore be described in the agreement or contract between the employers. Their safety and health responsibilities will sometimes overlap. Either the staffing agency or the host employer may be better suited to ensure compliance with a particular requirement, and may assume primary responsibility for it. The joint employment structure requires effective communication and a common understanding of the division of responsibilities for safety and health. Ideally, these will be set forth in a written contract.
OSHA and NIOSH recommend the following practices to staffing agencies and host employers so that they may better protect temporary workers through mutual cooperation and collaboration. Unless otherwise legally required, these recommendations are for the purpose of guidance and in some cases represent best practices.