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Workers' Compensation

Washington: Staffing Agency May Be Liable for Borrowing Employer’s Safety Violations

In a divided decision, the Supreme Court of Washington held that a staffing agency might, at least in some circumstances, be liable for the borrowing employer’s safety violations under the state’s Industrial Safety and Health Act (WISHA) if the agency had maintained sufficient control over the worker and his or her working environment such that the agency might reasonably have abated the safety hazards. The Court acknowledged that employment issues under the state’s workers’ compensation laws and WISHA were not identical. The Court said the appropriate inquiry should be whether the staffing agency had retained sufficient control over the work environment. In these two cases joined to consider the important issue of agency liability, the Court held that the Board’s determination that one of the agencies had not maintained control over the work environment was supported by competent evidence. In the other case, however, the Court noted that the agency was aware of potential hazards and should have taken some sort of action to protect its workers. Those facts supported the conclusion that the second agency should be liable for the WISHA violations.

Thomas A. Robinson, J.D., the co-Editor-in-Chief and Feature National Columnist for the LexisNexis Workers’ Compensation eNewsletter, is co-author of Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law(LexisNexis).

LexisNexis Online Subscribers: Citations below link to Lexis Advance.

See Department of Labor & Indus. v. Tradesmen Int’l, LLC, 2021 Wash. LEXIS 586 (Oct. 28, 2 021)

See generally Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, § 67.06.

Source: Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, the nation’s leading authority on workers’ compensation law

For a more detailed discussion of the case, see

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