OSHA Issues Temporary Worker Bulletin on Lockout/Tagout
OSHA has provided additional guidance on the responsibilities of temporary-worker staffing agencies and host employers to protect temporary workers under the federal Code of Hazardous Energy (lockout/tagout) standard 1910.147.
The bulletin emphasizes that the staffing agency and the host agency are considered joint employers, and therefore, both are responsible for ensuring that the temporary workers are protected in the event of a sudden release of stored energy. However, the level of responsibility will differ from the two employers.
The staffing agency can meet its responsibilities by:
- Providing generic safety training regarding controlling hazardous energy
- Performing an assessment of the hazards its employees will be exposed to
- Assessing the protective measures implemented by the host employer
The host employer can meet its responsibilities by:
- Providing the more comprehensive site-specific training
- Ensure all temporary workers working with or near areas where hazardous energy is stored receive the same benefits of training and protective measure that are given to the permanent workers exposed to the same hazards
What's hazardous energy?
Hazardous energy is energy sources like electrical, mechanical, hydraulic, pneumatic, chemical, thermal or other sources found in machines and equipment that can be hazardous to workers. These energy sources can become dangerous during the servicing and maintenance of machines and equipment, when the unexpected startup or release of stored energy could cause injury to employees. Employers must develop, implement and enforce written procedures for shutting down and isolating machinery and equipment that are capable of being locked out. If the machinery/equipment cannot be locked out, the employer must develop, implement and enforce a tagout program.
It's the law.
OSHA requires employers to train each permanent and temporary worker to ensure they know, understand and can follow the applicable provisions of the hazardous energy control procedures. Below is guidance on what the staffing agency and the host employer should be doing to protect temporary workers.
- Before beginning work, the host employer and staffing agency should jointly review the task assignments and job hazards to identify, eliminate and control hazardous energy releases and determine the coverage of temporary workers by a lockout/tagout program.
- While the employers may agree to divide responsibilities, neither employer may avoid its ultimate responsibilities under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act) by shifting responsibilities to the other employer.
- The host employer is in the best position to ensure compliance at its worksite and protect temporary workers by taking all necessary steps to ensure compliance with the provisions of the Lockout/Tagout standard.
- The staffing agency must inquire about the hazards to which its employees will be exposed. In addition, the staffing agency must ensure that the host employer has a site-specific lockout/tagout program that protects the temporary workers against the potential for hazardous energy release at the worksite and provides site-specific training to the workers. Similarly, the staffing agency should communicate with the temporary workers to ensure that they understand the lockout/tagout policies and procedures.
- The host employer must fully inform the staffing agency of any expectations it has for the staffing agency to provide the temporary workers with training regarding both exposure to uncontrolled energy and lockout/tagout policies and procedures. The host employer must also confirm that the staffing agency is aware of any changes in workplace hazards.
- If a temporary worker doesn't actually service or maintain hazardous energy devices but works in an area where lockout/tagout procedures are in effect, he or she is an affected employee who must also receive training per 1910.147(c)(7)(i)(B).
Staffing agencies are obligated to become familiar with noise exposure hazards and controls in place at host employers’ worksites prior to assigning workers. More information is available in the noise exposure and hearing conservation bulletin (PDF).
Previous TWI bulletins on safety and health training, hazard communication, respiratory protection, noise exposure and hearing conservation, bloodborne pathogens and injury and illness recordkeeping requirements can be found on OSHA’s website.
- OSHA Issues Recordkeeping Guidance for Temporary Staffing Firms
- OSHA Recordkeeping Requirements: Assurance University Webinar Replay
- OSHA Emphasizes Joint Responsibility Between Temporary Staffing Firms and Clients
- Safety E-Book
- Staffing & PEO Blog
- Staffing & PEO Industry Page
- Staffing & PEO Webinar Replays
- Staffing & PEO Library Resources
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