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OSHA bulletins lay out employer, staffing agency responsibilities

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has released bulletins that indicate host employers and staffing agencies have shared responsibility for the safety of temporary workers. Specifically, the bulletins address protections from noise and respiratory hazards. Because OSHA is a federal agency, its rules and regulations apply in South Carolina and across the U.S.

The first bulletin addresses employer and staffing agency responsibility under OSHA's Respiratory Protection Standard. It says that the RPS requires appropriate respirators, where necessary, for employees in general industry, maritime and construction positions. It is the host employer's responsibility to evaluate the work environment and identify potential respiratory hazards, as well as to determine which type of respirator will protect workers. The staffing agency is required to take steps to ensure that workers have the protections required by OSHA regulations.

The second bulletin focuses on the Occupational Noise Standard for construction and general industry. Host employers are required to examine noise exposure to employees, implement and maintain controls and provide hearing protection for workers. Employers must also have a hearing conservation program. The ONS requires that staffing agencies become familiar with noise exposure controls and hazards, inform their workers of noise hazards, ensure their workers have sufficient hearing protection and communicate with both their workers and the host employers about noise exposure levels.

In a case where a worker suffers injury or harm as a result of an employer's failure to comply with OSHA rules and regulations, he or she may be entitled to compensation for damages. Workers who suffer on-the-job injuries may be able to make a claim for recovery through South Carolina's workers' compensation system. Negligence on the part of the employer typically does not increase the value of a case in South Carolina because it has a no-fault system. An attorney may be able to help an injured party by gathering evidence in support of a claim or by representing the client during official hearings.

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