OHS obligations of labour hire and group training companies

Monday, 11 January, 2010

Many industries such as retail, mining, health services, trades (including apprentices) and local government rely heavily on the flexibility that labour hire firms offer.

Although they may not have day-to-day management control over the people they employ, WorkSafe Victoria’s acting Executive Director, Stan Krpan, said they have long-established health and safety responsibilities: “This is particularly the case in industries where there are seasonal surges in demand for workers; but unless they understand their obligations, people and businesses, including their own, are at risk.

“WorkSafe has been working with the labour hire industry for many years to improve standards and, while there has been improvement, more is needed.

“Every year, thousands of people working under these arrangements are injured and die. Everyone in that process - the worker, labour hire firm and host employer - has obligations that cannot be outsourced.”

WorkSafe’s website features labour hire as an area of concern and provides detailed information for labour hire employers, host employers and workers.

Publications include ‘Labour Hire Agencies: Managing the safety of on-hired workers’, ‘Host employers - Managing the safety of labour hire workers’, ‘Labour hire workers - OHS rights and responsibilities’ and ‘Case studies in Labour Hire’.

“Although a company may not have day-to-day control, the labour hire firm has to ensure the people they are sending out have the skills needed for the work they are to do and that the host employer’s workplace is as safe as reasonably practicable,” continued Krpan. “It’s not enough to just act as a matchmaker. Labour hire firms must actively engage in the recruitment and placement process and ensure the people they are doing business with meet their respective obligations.

“That might lead to some difficult conversations or business decisions; but if it is not done, the consequences for injured workers, the labour hire company and host employer can be serious.

“Workers compensation premiums are tied to the performance of individual businesses and the industry they are in; the impact of safety incidents is also felt more broadly.”

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