Essential health and safety tips for hiring agency or temporary workers

temp worker

Posted on 30th Nov, 2018 | By Lorretta Tatham

We’re on the brink of the busy festive season, which means you may well already be hiring agency and temporary workers in anticipation of the Christmas rush, especially since manufacturing and warehousing are two of the sectors which most often have need of extra hands on deck.

The pressure is on for many businesses at this time of year, but it’s still important to pay close attention to the health and safety measures for your temporary workers. If processes are rushed or neglected people can suffer injuries, and this is something you will be deemed responsible for as the employer. As such, it’s essential to be kept in the loop about your responsibilities when taking on a temporary or agency worker.

Make sure they’re equipped with the knowledge and equipment

You’ll be expected to take reasonable steps to identify any known risks concerning health and safety in the workplace and must be satisfied that the employee has also taken necessary steps to prevent or control those risks. This must be done before the work starts, along with the provision of the following information:

  1. All aspects of the tasks that the worker will be required to perform in their time with you
  2. An outline of any health and safety risks they may face in the workplace, including the steps you have taken to prevent or control such risks
  3. All details of the experience, training and qualifications that are necessary for the job.

construction shaking hands

It’s also a good idea to visit the basics with your temporary employee. It’s risky to assume that anything is common knowledge, or that one of your other employees will provide the information at some point, so don’t make the mistake of skimming over vital information.

Most importantly, avoid any misunderstandings by impressing on them the importance of asking for help when it’s needed. Making them feel comfortable with asking questions of your more experienced staff will not only preserve their safety but will also help to stop them from repeatedly making mistakes which would end up costing you time and money to rectify. 

Don’t forget – it’s also a legal requirement to provide your temporary worker with the appropriate PPE. This should be specialised to their job wherever possible, rather than appropriated from another. Some employers can find it easy to forget how overwhelming new, frantic and unfamiliar environments can be to certain employees, especially if they have no prior experience of the role.

Common jobs for temporary workers

Manual handling

A few extra manual handlers will come in handy for businesses who require a lot of labour and heavy lifting to be carried out, such as loading delivery vehicles or moving large items around a warehouse. But without the correct knowledge on how to lift heavy items, a manual handler may be at risk of injuring themselves or causing damage to their back. Experienced employees will be aware of the need to lift with the knees when taking on heavy loads, however temporary workers might not necessarily be aware of this. (It’s a prime example of the supposedly obvious information that you should avoid skimming over!)

Don’t forget, if your employee causes injury to themselves as a result of this lack of knowledge, it’s their employer who will liable for not providing the necessary briefing. Our manual handling course is a sound investment for those hiring manual handlers this festive season.

browns safety handler

2) Banksman duty

A role as banksman does usually require training, however lots of temporary workers find themselves in a role like this if a business is particularly short on staff.

If you know the worker in question has received specific relevant training in the past, you can use your judgement to determine whether or not they’re fit for the job. However, we’d strongly advise against filling this role with someone who has no relevant experience or training at all.

3) Breaking down materials

This can involve a range of duties from deconstructing cardboard boxes to breaking down larger wooden items. If the worker already has experience in working with this equipment that’s a positive, but it’s a good idea to cover your ground and train them any way – it’s better to be safe than sorry! This is definitely a role to avoid for someone who has no previous relevant training or experience. However, if you’re interested in getting them trained up, we offer an abrasive wheels training course which can provide thorough training to ensure your staff are working safely.

Remember, you should always delegate the riskiest jobs to your more experienced employees and delegate the simpler, low-risk roles to new temporary staff. If the festive period comes to an end and you find yourself considering keeping some of your temporary workers and training them for long-term employment, we offer a wide range of courses that will prove useful, including access equipment courses, first aid courses and health and safety courses. You can book any one of them through the relevant page, or simply give us a call on 01282 615517.

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