As part of its Temporary Worker Initiative, OSHA has released two bulletins on noise exposure and respiratory hazards faced by temp workers. Staffing agencies and host employers in Pennsylvania and across the U.S. will want to take note of these bulletins, as they enforce existing regulations found in OSHA’s Respiratory Protection Standard and Occupational Noise Standard.
Under the former standard, host employers in the general, construction and maritime industries must provide respirators for their employees. The correct respirators are determined after a thorough workplace hazard assessment. Neither employers nor staffing agencies can require workers to provide or pay for this equipment. Wherever respirators are needed, there should be a respirator protection program in place.
Under both standards, employers must also implement engineering, administrative and work practice controls. Staffing agencies must also be familiar with the hazards and communicate regularly with employers and employees about them.
The Occupational Noise Standard requires employers to determine noise exposure levels, provide hearing protection when applicable and set up a hearing protection program. Workers are not supposed to pay for the hearing protection when it is a strict requirement.
Lastly, workers exposed to a time-weighted average of 85 decibels (in general industries) or 90 decibels (in construction) over an eight-hour period must receive an audiogram within six months. Employees are paid for their time receiving the audiogram.
Even if employers do all they can to maintain workplace safety, accidents can happen through the negligence of the employees themselves. In such cases, victims can still file for workers’ compensation and be covered for their medical expenses and for a percentage of their lost wages. Or they can forgo the benefits and settle for a compromise and release agreement, which is paid out in a lump sum. Either way, having legal assistance is essential. A lawyer might be able to assist with the appeal if needed.