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Agency work health and safety obligations for labour hire workers

Following on from my previous blog about compliance responsibility at a broad level, and Worksafe WA’s announcement late January of their intention to concentrate on the WHS/OSH of labour hire workers as a dedicated inspection program until the EOFY, it is definitely worth reminding of the agency responsibility when placing labour hire workers, and importantly, provide you with a very practical agent checklist, to help you to meet the requirement.

The investigation, while it is currently focussed on WA, may have implications across other States. The campaign involves inspectors obtaining information, including identifying safety risks of labour hire workers during any routine inspections at host employers and will involve visits to labour hire agents. Importantly, the inspector will provide host employers and labour hire agent with information on how to comply with OSH requirements. In a nutshell, before placement:

  • review the host employer safety record.
  • gather information about the work and the workplace, including work environment, organisational arrangements, risks associated with the work and any skills/knowledge required to undertake the work
  • consult with the host on any safety matters.
  • discuss with the host the contents of site specific induction and required information, instruction and training, outlining duties, policies, procedures and safe work practices, including consultation methods
  • make arrangements with the host to keep training records on hazardous substances and records on exposure to substances as required.
  • discuss with the host any required equipment, including PPE, the standards PPE must meet and who provides the PPE.
  • visit the workplace prior to placement of a worker to identify hazards and assess any risks to labour hire workers’ safety and health.
  • where risks are identified, consult with the host to ensure they are eliminated, or if that is not reasonably practicable, minimised.
  • ensure arrangements are in place to consult with the host and other duty holders, remembering that duties are non-transferable and more than one duty holder may have the same duty.
  • ensure the host understands that they need to obtain your approval prior to transferring a labour hire worker to a new task or location.
  • establish communication methods the worker can use to contact you if they consider there is any risk.
  • ensure workers have the means to identify and take action in an unsafe situation.
  • ensure the worker has the means to raise safety issues with you if they are unsatisfied with the host employer’s response.
  • provide a general safety induction to the worker.
  • ensure that the worker has the necessary qualifications, licences, skills and training to safely do the work.
  • consult with the host and the worker to ensure you and the workers understand and are confident in your understanding of the OSH policies, procedures and practices of the host.
  • establish persons of contact for OSH matters between you and the host, as well as agreed means and frequency of communication.
  • ensure that you have an adequate system in place for the OSH management of your labour hire workers, including appropriately trained agency staff.

So, with such a detailed and prescriptive action list, no doubt you will find this very handy as part of the ‘signing off’ process with your customer.

You’re welcome!

  • Alica Herrod
    6:22 PM, 6 March 2014

    Nice post, by reading above i just want to say that safety is more important now a days, the organizations have to first look for the safety of the workers.

  • James Bergman
    8:57 AM, 17 November 2016

    This all sounds pretty straight forward and reasonable. It sounds like it is all about making sure labour hire companies are organized and up to date. All of which makes perfect sense from a business standpoint and I don’t think these inspections will change much.

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