On April 14, 2021, Washington governor Jay Inslee signed into law Substitute House Bill (SHB) 1206, creating new requirements for staffing agencies and worksite employers utilizing temporary employees to provide training on workplace safety and health hazards. Under the new law, worksite employers must notify staffing agencies about the anticipated job hazards temporary employees will likely encounter, and provide specific training to temporary employees on those hazards. Staffing agencies must separately assess the worksite safety conditions and provide their own general safety training to their employees on the anticipated workplace hazards. Specifically, under the new law, staffing agencies must do the following.
- At the start of any contract to place a worker, staffing agencies must inquire about the “safety and health practices and hazards at the [specific] workplace where the employee will be working to assess the safety conditions, workers tasks, and the worksite employer’s safety program.” (Emphasis added.) (This inquiry may include visiting the actual worksite.)
- Staffing agencies must “[p]rovide training to the employee for general awareness safety training for recognized industry hazards the employee may encounter at the worksite.” (Emphasis added.)
- Industry hazard training must be completed in the preferred language of the employee.
- Industry hazard training “must be provided at no expense to the employee.”
- “The training date and training content must be maintained by the staffing agency and provided to the employee upon request.”
- At the start of the contract, staffing agencies must send to the worksite employer a general description of the training program, including all topics covered.
- Staffing agencies must provide the employee the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries’ hotline number to call to report safety hazards and concerns.
- Staffing agencies must inform the employee to whom he or she should report safety concerns at the workplace.
Worksite employers must complete the following tasks set forth in the new law.
- Prior to the start of an assignment, worksite employers must “[d]ocument and inform the staffing agency about anticipated job hazards likely encountered by the [worker].” (Emphasis added.)
- Worksite employers must permit staffing agencies to visit the worksites where employees will work (or are working) to assess the workplace conditions.
- A worksite employer must “[r]eview the safety and health awareness training provided by the staffing agency to determine if it addresses recognized hazards for the worksite employer’s industry.” (Emphasis added.)
- Worksite employers must provide specific training to temporary employees regarding the particular hazards they may encounter at the worksite.
- Worksite employers must “document and maintain records of site-specific training.” (Emphasis added.)
- Within three business days of providing the training, worksite employers must provide confirmation to the staffing agency that the training was provided to the temporary employee.
Under the new law, if a temporary employee’s job tasks or work locations change such that the employee may encounter new worksite hazards, the worksite employer must inform the staffing agency and the employee of “job hazards not previously covered before the employee undertakes the new tasks and update personal protective equipment and training for the new job tasks, if necessary.” The law permits “the staffing agency or [the] employee [to] refuse a new job task at the worksite when the task has not been reviewed or if the employee has not had appropriate training to do the new task.”
If the staffing agency learns of existing job hazards that have not been mitigated by the worksite employer, the agency must inform the worksite employer, “urge the worksite employer to correct [them],” and document these efforts; if the worksite employer does not take corrective measures, the staffing agency must remove its employees from the worksite.
The Washington State Department of Labor and Industries proposed the new law in response to a 2017 study by the department’s Safety and Health Assessment and Research for Prevention (SHARP) program that showed that temporary employees were about twice as likely as permanent employees to be seriously injured on the job.
SHB 1206, which will be codified in Chapter 49.17 of the Revised Code of Washington, goes into effect on July 25, 2021.