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Temporary Work - New Challenges for Occupational Safety and Health

Guidelines for occupational safety and health in the temporary employment sector

Despite decreasing accident rates in recent years, occupational safety and health is still deficient in the temporary employment sector. The frequency of accidents and sickness rate are significantly higher than in other sectors.

The working and employment conditions in the temporary employment sector lead to a comparatively high risk of injury and stress: temporary employees are increasingly exposed to the risk of accidents due to short-cycle and proportionally frequent assignments to jobs in the production and auxiliary sector in changing locations. The mandatory safety instructions are often missing.

Occupational accidents in temporary employment Occupational accidents in temporary employment, © Sonderauswertung der Verwaltungs-Berufsgenossenschaft

Physical and mental hazards for temporary workers

However, the hazards are not only of physical, but also of emotional and psychological nature. Findings suggest that the combination of physical and psychological loads at work predominantly manifests in mental and physical unfavourable strains (e.g. musculoskeletal disorders).

The employment of temporary workers creates a relationship between the temporary employment agency, the deployment company or the customer company and the employees in temporary work. The working relationships are often only short-lived, and the actual employment times in the customer companies can be even shorter. This poses special challenges for the employees:

  • Constantly changing employments with different work requirements
  • Frequent adaptation to new workflows
  • Different organisational structures and operational communication paths
  • Changing environmental influences

Other problems in temporary work often result from the insufficient exchange of information between the temporary employment agency and the customer company on job requirements and the operating conditions that would be necessary for a safe and healthy working environment. Aggravating this situation, temporary workers often find themselves in precarious employment conditions.

Communication and agreements between the parties involved

In the triangle between the temporary employment agency, the deployment company and the temporary worker, all parties benefit from close communication and clear agreements. This is demonstrated by the results of the GEZA and GRAziL projects, which are accompanied by the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA) and sponsored by the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (BMAS) within the programme for combating work-related diseases.

GEZA: healthy temporary work with a system

The project "Healthy Temporary Work - Occupational Safety and Health with a System for Development and Testing of Integrated Health Management for the Temporary Employment Industry" (GEZA) focused on the introduction of occupational health management in temporary employment agencies. It also conducted health interviews with temporary workers. The cooperation with a health insurance company has been tested and the so-called Hattersheimer Declaration was formulated, establishing the information paths and obligations between temporary employment agencies and deployment companies for occupational health management. Finally, decision-making and action guidelines were published.

Online-Lernprogramm: Gesundheitsgespräche in der Personaldienstleistung

INQA-Handlungshilfen Gesundheitsmanagement in Zeitarbeitsunternehmen

GRAziL: Action guidelines for temporary employment agencies

The project "Design, implementation and transfer of instruments for resource management and occupational safety within the framework of a target group-oriented approach for temporary workers in deployment companies" (GRAziL) developed a toolbox for the practice. In it, proven measures have been put together for the various phases of temporary employment. They range from an extended economic evaluation of the use of temporary work via examples for regulating occupational safety and health in the temporary employment contract up to training of managerial staff for the integration of temporary workers in the operational processes. Tools for the work of employee representatives have also been developed. These and many other instruments are available on a CD along with background information.

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