In today’s post-pandemic era, social and human service organizations are exposed to several risks. Organizations without proper risk management plans are susceptible to events that could lead to massive costs or, worse, entirely shut down an agency’s operations. To avoid such catastrophic events, it is crucial to implement an enterprise risk management plan that addresses key risk areas affecting an organization’s clients, employees, volunteers, and overall organizational safety.

When utilizing staffing agencies, keep in mind when temporary workers (agency staff) are working in your facility, workers’ compensation and professional liability risk exposures may be higher. Agency staff can increase liability exposures for a variety of reasons including:

  • New to the workplace
    • Unfamiliarity with the job/tasks
    • Unfamiliarity with services provided, care practices, and resident population
  • Insufficient or lack of communication
    • Between facility (host employer) and staffing agency
    • Between agency staff and facility staff
  • Insufficient or lack of training

Understanding the risks can help senior living organizations strategically partner with staffing agencies to ensure a safe and productive workforce. When establishing partnerships keep in mind that the host employer and staffing agency are joint employers of the agency staff and, therefore, are both responsible for providing and maintaining a safe work environment. Below are a few best practices to promote safety and minimize risk:

  • Conduct a joint risk assessment to evaluate all facets of safety and health related to each organization and the jobs the agency staff will be hired to perform. A comprehensive evaluation helps identify potential safety and health hazards in addition to the necessary training and personal protective equipment (PPE) requirements. Include a review of the following:
    • all task assignments, written job descriptions, written safety and health program materials, review of anticipated exposures, job hazard analyses, equipment and/or machinery, and worksites
  • Identify the division of responsibilities for safety and health within each organization (host employer and staffing agency). To promote accountability, these agreed upon responsibilities should be set forth in a written contract. The written contract defines the following:
    • Approved job tasks
    • Required employee experience and qualifications
    • Training requirements (who will complete and document the training)
      • In most cases the host employer is responsible for providing site- and task-specific training, and the staffing agency is responsible for providing general safety and health awareness training.
    • Hazards and controls – to include agreed upon ongoing risk assessments
    • PPE required – to include who will pay for it, who will provide it and who will train the employee
  • Maintain open and ongoing communication among all parties. Have practices in place for:
    • Managing changes to job tasks and/or hazards
    • Incident Reporting and Response (address both employee and resident incidents) to promote timely and thorough incident reporting and investigation
    • Reporting safety issues, e.g., hotline, staffing agency and host employer contact information

By integrating these best practices into your risk management program, you can foster communication between the host employer and staffing agency. This will foster an environment of productivity and safety, which may contribute to gaining a competitive edge.

To learn more best practices and risk management strategies to keep your senior living community competitive, reach out to a Marsh McLennan Agency (MMA) advisor.

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