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Wash. court clarifies liability for staffing companies under state law



The Supreme Court of Washington held a staffing company responsible for violating the State Industrial Safety and Health Act.

Tradesmen International LLC and Laborworks Industrial Staffing Specialists are staffing companies that place staffing employees with host employers.

Tradesmen. contracted with Dochnahl Construction to provide temporary staff when needed, and Laborworks delivered workers at a strategic materials recycling facility.

The Department of Labor and Industries cited both staffing companies for violating the Washington Industrial Safety and Health Act. References were later made by the Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals, which found that staffing companies were not responsible employers.

The department appealed the board's decision to the Superior Court, which reinstated the lawsuits against Laborworks, but the Tradesmen applications were rejected.

On further appeal, the Court of Appeal ruled that the staffing companies were not responsible employers under WISHA and provided the references.

The Washington Supreme Court has ruled that WISHA's purpose is to ensure "safe and healthy working conditions."

For WISHA purposes, an employer is defined as any entity that conducts business and employs one or more employees.

the reality of who controls the workplace, "said the Supreme Court.

" Under WISHA, control is an appropriate fact. is to be taken into account when determining employer liability, ”the court said. "We allocate responsibilities to the entities that can best ensure a safe working environment and protect workers." to reduce the relevant safety risks.

“In doing so, we take into account the relevant safety risk involved in the infringement and determine the presumed employer's level of control over the manner and tools of the work performed, control over workers, control over working conditions. on the spot and the ability to reduce the relevant risks ", the court said.

Other useful, non-exclusive factors for assessing the level of control exercised by the presumed employer include who has the responsibility and power to control the workers and the workplace and whether the alleged employer has the power to hire, fire or change the terms of employment, the court said. "This is especially true in the common employment context where the presumed employer is the primary employer as opposed to the host employer," the court said.

By applying that approach, the court stated that Tradesmen is not a responsible employer for the WISHA infringements. . The court said that craftsmen were prosecuted for exposing a temporary worker to falls and position risks at a workplace, but significant evidence showed that craftsmen did not control the worker, work, place or work environment.

Unlike the workplace. Infrastructure risks involved in the Tradesmen referrals, the Laborworks referrals do not directly involve workplace safety issues, the court noted. Laborworks was prosecuted for WISHA violations involving the provision of vaccinations, the implementation of appropriate safety equipment for exposure to sharp objects, inadequate safety training and inadequate record keeping.

was under Laborworks control, the court said.

Laborworks, as the primary employer, was responsible for carrying out safety measures before a worker was assigned to the host employer, the court said. Laborworks also exercised significant control over the workers and the conditions, especially before they were assigned.

was a responsible employer for the WISHA violations, the court said.

In a dissenting opinion, Judge Steven C. Gonzalez agreed that Laborworks should be appropriately cited as an employer under WISHA, but he argued that artisans should also have been cited.

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