As the month of October draws to a close, the holiday season will soon be upon us and with it the 2015 holiday shopping season. Every year, retail stores across the country and throughout New York City seem to kick off their holiday sales earlier and earlier. For many stores, this means staying open later and staffing more employees.
A recent U.S. News and World Report article notes that New York City-based Macy’s is among the major retailers that plan to rely heavily upon temporary workers as the company recently announced plans to hire 85,000 additional holiday workers. In addition to fulfilling the personnel needs of actual brick-and-mortar stores, Internet-based companies like Amazon have also traditionally relied heavily upon temporary workers to fulfill warehouse orders as do delivery companies like UPS and FedEx.
While retailers depend heavily on temporary workers during the holiday season, many fail to adequately train these workers, thereby putting them at risk of suffering workplace injuries. From a back injury suffered while attempting to move an in-store display to a back over forklift accident that results when a temporary worker unknowingly walks into a restricted area, employers are legally responsible for providing temporary workers with the information and training necessary to avoid serious injury and death.
Until recently, many staffing agencies handed off temporary employees to host employers, assuming that workers received the proper training and instruction from an employer. Many employers, however, were simply assigning these temporary workers jobs which often required that they operate or work in the vicinity of potentially dangerous equipment and machinery.
In response, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration took action to help clarify the roles and responsibilities of both staffing agencies and employers. Under OSHA’s guidelines, staffing agencies and host employers share joint responsibilities in ensuring that a worker is provided the necessary information and instruction to do his or her job safely.
Source: OSHA.gov, “Protecting Temporary Workers,” Oct. 16, 2015