Temporary workers State laws Construction Manufacturing

Washington state law aimed at protecting temp workers in construction, manufacturing

Photo: kali9/iStockphoto

Olympia, WA — A new Washington state law will require construction and manufacturing employers who use temporary workers to identify and document workplace hazards, communicate those hazards to staffing agencies, and make sure workers are informed and properly trained.

SHB 1206, signed into law April 14 by Gov. Jay Inslee (D), is set to go into effect July 25. It was proposed by the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries in response to a 2017 study by its Safety and Health Assessment and Research for Prevention program showing that, compared with permanent workers, temporary workers from staffing agencies are more than twice as likely to be seriously injured on the job.

Temporary workers also are less likely to receive training to recognize and protect themselves from workplace hazards, Washington L&I contends in an April 15 press release.

“The research on this is startling,” Washington L&I Director Joel Sacks said in the release. “Every worker, temporary or permanent, should know about the hazards of their job and how to stay safe. We should expect no less. This law will make a real difference.”


The study also shows that temporary workers often experience unexpected changes to assigned work, but many are afraid to say no, regardless of the new hazards they might face.

“It’s not uncommon for these workers to get new assignments that they’re not prepared or trained for,” SHARP lead researcher Michael Foley said in the release. “On top of that, temporary workers say they’re reluctant to refuse new tasks even if they’re concerned, because they might lose their job and their pay.”

When an assignment is changed, the law will require employers to inform the affected employee and the staffing agency of any new hazards. Employees can refuse a new task if they’re not properly trained.

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