The sound of circular saws tearing through splintering beams reverberates across the fenced-in concrete lot that serves as the enclosure for a group of men clad in yellow hardhats. With the sun setting, some men begin to pack up, but two of the temporary workers remain in the building, setting drywall into the ceiling. With an enormous effort and a grunt, one of the men thrusts the drywall sheet skyward as the other scrambles to fix the heavy panel in its place. With the first few nails in place, the man supporting the drywall collapses. The panel falls from the ceiling and crashes into the man below, while the other dives for safety. Luckily, the man under the drywall sheet appears to be uninjured.
“Are you okay?” asks his friend, noticing the bruises on the fallen man’s chest, “You could report that.”
“Nah, it’s just a bruise,” mutters the worker on the floor, clearly embarrassed for dropping the sheet.
Black and blue patches have already begun to form across the man’s chest, and his breaths come in ragged bursts. His friend looks at him with his brows raised. But respectful of his friend’s wishes, they pack up their things and exit the building as the light of day begins to fade away.
How a Complicated Reporting Process Could Harm Both You and Your Workers
Stories such as this are not uncommon for temporary workers. There are a variety of reasons that workers tend to underreport their injuries, chief among them are that reporting an injury could result in them being unable to work, or the process of reporting is too complicated to bother with. A recent educational bulletin from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) addresses the complicated process in an effort to clarify the requirements for injury recording of temporary worker injuries and illnesses.
A lack of reporting can result in fines and legal action against your business, while workers can suffer serious or fatal injuries. Here are a few steps your company can take to ensure the safety of temporary workers, as well as the financial future of your business.
Injury and Illness Recordkeeping Requirements
Q: Temporary workers often come from a staffing agency, resulting in confusion when a worker comes to report an injury. Do you cover them or does the staffing agency?
A: The answer: both (but in most cases, the host employer is responsible for recording injuries).
Q: Should both employers’ record the injury just to be safe?
A: No, injuries and illnesses should be recorded on only one employer’s injury and illness log.
Q: Okay, so say my company is responsible for recording the injury; who puts it in the books?
A: Those recording the injury should be supervising the workers on a day-to-day basis. Day-to-day basis meaning those employers who direct the worker and control potential hazards
Q: So the staffing agency has no role to play in worker safety and health; true or false?
A: False, the staffing agency (or non-supervising employer) should be in constant communication with their workers to ensure injuries and illnesses are reported and recorded.