A Stronger, Safer Team: Staffing Firms Have the Tools to Minimize Risk in the Workplace
Quality staffing companies do more than just provide clients with qualified workers who can fill an acute operational need, says Tom Quail, Vice President of Risk Management and Corporate Counsel at Lehigh Technical. They seek to build productive relationships that foster a safer work environment for everyone.
“A strong staffing agency will come in and say, ‘You’re working in a light industrial space that requires your employees to do a lot of moving, bending and twisting,’” Quail says. “‘We have 10 clients that are in a similar line of work. Here are some steps we can take to prevent injuries from occurring.’
Many clients of contingent staffing agencies don’t think to connect their services with mitigating risk, but it is all part of those firms’ expertise.” Companies in the staffing industry have expertise identifying the skills required to perform a particular job and then finding the right individuals to do it. Thus, it only makes sense that as they fill these positions for clients, they find ways to apply their knowledge to minimize workplace risks for all employees.
Smart Business spoke with Quail about how the staffing industry can help clients address risk management and safety concerns.
How can a staffing agency’s risk management team provide value to clients?
The role of a service provider is not to be critical or negative about what the client has done in the past with regard to safety. Rather, it’s to evaluate the client’s current safety procedures, praise the positive steps that have been taken to address concerns and provide informed recommendations that promote safer working environments.
Risk management is a perfect value add since it corresponds directly with the purpose of a staffing firm — to find personnel who can ably fill a specific role for the client. The research that is conducted along the way can be used to more accurately predict injuries and start to put pieces in place to be proactive as opposed to reactive when it comes to reducing the risk of injuries in the workplace.
Clients should not view personnel placement as the completion of the dialogue with the staffing firm. Instead, it’s the beginning of a new phase that can lead to a better understanding of safety in the workplace and what tools and processes can be implemented in order to minimize the risk of injury.
What’s a good example of the benefits of this risk management effort?
Everyone enjoys warm summer weather, but the heat can be dangerous when there is work to be done. Staffing firms should be aware of the work that their people are doing at all times of the year and working with clients to ensure that best practices are in place to ensure they are staying safe.
Marketing materials that speak to heat-related injuries or conditions and what can be done to prevent those from occurring benefits not just the seasonal help, but anyone who is working outdoors in the summer. It may be something as simple as handing out water or peanuts onsite or encouraging workers to drink less pop and more water. These are situations for which staffing firms can be proactive in order to reduce the risk of health concerns.
What’s the key to making long-term behavioral changes?
Staffing firms can offer recommendations on practices that keep workers safer. But the long-term goal should be to teach clients to recognize these needs and give them the tools so that they can track injuries, monitor risks and be cognizant of what leads to a safer workplace. They can learn how to track data, identify recurring problems and develop their own solutions. These practices also have an economic benefit in terms of reduced medical expenses and limited absences from work due to injury or illness. Clients should learn from staffing firms
about the costs of injuries, and with that information they can see how much money they are saving by using contingent labor. When you have a partner working on your behalf to manage these costs and develop
tools to keep employees out of danger, the savings can be substantial. If a staffing provider is only providing a client with labor, the client is missing out on the added benefits of becoming proactive with safety and learning to measure injury costs.