OSHA has released two bulletins reminding staffing agencies and host employers that they must protect temporary workers from noise exposure and respiratory hazards. This is part of OSHA’s Temporary Worker Initiative, so employers in South Carolina should take note.
Regarding respiratory hazards, OSHA upholds its Respiratory Protection Standard, which requires employers to assess workplace hazards and provide respirators at no cost to the employees (nor can staffing agencies demand that the employees provide them). Employers must also maintain engineering, work practice and administrative controls. When respirators are required, a respiratory protection program is necessary.
OSHA’s Occupational Noise Standard requires that employers determine noise exposure levels in the workplace. A hearing protection program must be put in place. Staffing agencies should do their part to regularly communicate with employers and employees about hazards and ensure the use of proper hearing protection.
Employees are not to pay for hearing protection as a condition for employment or placement, nor do they pay for audiograms. They must also be paid for their time receiving the audiogram. Audiograms should be initiated within the first six months that a general industry worker is exposed to 85 decibels over an eight-hour period (90 decibels for construction workers).
Those who are injured on the job may be covered for their medical expenses via workers’ compensation. All a worker has to do is report the accident to their employe. Filing for these benefits does not require one to prove if anyone was negligent or not, but the process can still go a lot more smoothly with a lawyer. If the claim is denied, the lawyer could assist with the appeal.