1st February 2016
Agency workers – who holds Health & Safety responsibility for them?
It may be beneficial for a company to employ agency workers from time to time to deal with increased demand. This is often an ideal scenario for a business as they have a direct route to the recruitment market via the agency they’re using, plus they don’t have to take on the additional liabilities that permanent employees can be perceived to bring with them.
So, the agency worker isn’t directly employed by the company, however, they do not bring their own tools to the job and do not invoice the company for their time. This classifies them as a Labour Only Sub-Contractor (LOSC).
In this instance, the duty of care for the safety and wellbeing for the LOSC in the workplace is split between the agency and the company.
The standard practices for ensuring the safety of the LOSC would be to:
- check their suitability to perform the role
- provide an induction to the workplace
- risk assess the activities being undertaken by the LOSC and provide relevant training
- provide a clean and tidy working environment and any relevant Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
So, who has responsibility for what?
The company needs to ensure that they provide a detailed specification to the agency as to what sort of individual they require for the role. It is then the responsibility of the agency to deliver suitable candidates.
The company retains this responsibility as they would with any permanent member of staff. Maintaining records of this process is vital should an ‘audit trail’ ever be required in the instance of a HSE investigation or civil liability claim.
Risk Assessments and Suitable Training for the Role
Under the Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999 the company has a duty to assess risk and minimise these risks where possible. It is also the responsibility of the agency to ensure that they are familiar with the procedures in place for the reduction and management of risk and that these are reinforced to the LOSC.
Workplace Housekeeping and the provision of PPE
The agency has the responsibility to provide the LOSC with relevant PPE free of charge.
In reality, the PPE issued by agencies will be the basics (Hi-vis, gloves, glasses etc.) and the company therefore retains the responsibility to issue any role specific PPE.
It is important that an issue log is retained by both the company and the agency and that a signature is received from the LOSC confirming their receipt of the PPE.
With regards to housekeeping, the company retains full responsibility for the workplace and therefore must ensure that the on-site risks posed to the LOSC are reduced as far as is practicable.