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Handling workplace injuries with temporary workers

New Jersey workers whose activities are administrated through a temporary staffing agency might be interested in a recent OSHA letter intended to clarify the reporting procedures and oversight of workplace injuries and illnesses. OSHA noted in its interpretation that if a host employer directs an employee's daily activities, that company is typically also responsible for recording and reporting relevant injuries or illnesses tied to work activities.

This interpretation has received criticism due to the challenges for some host employers in handling these reports based on the work arrangement with the temp agency. In some cases, a temp agency may dispatch workers to a host employer's site, where the host employer handles all oversight and direction of the involved employees. In other instances, however, the temp agency may provide the majority of training and oversight with minimal involvement from the host employer. In such a case, the OSHA determination still requires the host employer to handle the reporting because of the employer's responsibility for assigning daily tasks.

Some instances of employee oversight and work-related injuries may be less difficult to understand in terms of responsibility. For example, an employee dispatched by a union to a contractor's site would typically be covered by the contractor for workers' compensation issues and safety matters. Similarly, an employment agency would not bear the responsibility for worker injuries on the job after coordinating employment for an applicant.

A workers' compensation case could become confusing if there is a dispute over who is responsible for the employee's well-being. However, legal advice may be helpful if a claim is hindered due to administrative disagreements at the workplace.

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