Before you know it, school will be out for summer break and thousands of students will be seeking summer employment. When I got my first summer job – back during the Lincoln administration – my employer gave me all of fifteen minutes of training. He basically said “do this” and “don’t do that” with little thought about temporary worker safety.
OSHA Requirements for Temporary Workers
Our friends at OSHA look seriously at businesses that hire summer workers. In fact, OSHA regulations state that temporary workers must receive the SAME training and the SAME personal protective equipment that full-time employees receive. Should a summer worker be injured in your shop and you can’t give OSHA written documentation that safety training took place, you could face some hefty penalties…
Aside from OSHA citations and penalties, it makes good business sense to ensure that temporary summer workers are trained and equipped to perform their assigned duties safely. After all, they are on your workers’ compensation and they will receive treatment and indemnity benefits if they are injured.
Tips for Temporary Worker Safety
As an employer of temporary workers (including students), there are some things you can do to help ensure a good experience and improve temporary worker safety:
1. Have a Written Onboarding Procedure
Have a written New Hire on-boarding procedure that details exactly what training the new hire should be given and what safety equipment he should be issued. Written programs guarantee that the on-boarding process will be consistent and nothing will fall through the cracks. If the tasks that your new hire will be doing change, re-visit the on-boarding document to ensure it is current.
2. Have a Supervisor Perform the Training
Have a competent supervisor or lead man show the new hire how to perform the assigned tasks safely. This should not be a “one shot” experience. Some new hires will need closer supervision and re-training until they get the hang of the job. It is NEVER a good idea to assign a new hire to follow a seasoned employee around to learn the job. Often seasoned employees use shortcuts and skip steps to accomplish a task. New hires don’t have the years of experience that allow the seasoned employee to do this without injury.
3. Have Temporary Workers Attend All Safety Meetings
Ensure that all temporary employees attend scheduled safety meetings and training events. Remember that safety training for temporary workers must be the same as that for full-time employees.
4. Monitor their Progress
Monitor the progress of temporary student laborers during their time with your company. Often, a good experience on a summer job leads to an opportunity to hire a great employee upon graduation. Also, inexperienced workers see your safety procedures (and other programs) from a unique vantage point, and their feedback can help your business.
With a little preparation you can improve your temporary worker safety, stay compliant with OSHA regulations, and give your student workers a great job experience!