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OSHA addresses respiratory and noise hazards for temp workers

As part of its Temporary Worker Initiative, OSHA has released bulletins on the various respiratory and noise hazards that temp workers face. The bulletins state that staffing agencies and host employers share the responsibility of protecting temp workers from these hazards. Employers in California will want to know what these bulletins say regarding their responsibilities.

OSHA has a Respiratory Protection Standard in place that requires employers in general, construction and maritime industries to set up their employees with the appropriate respirators. Neither they nor the staffing agency can require the employee to pay for the equipment. Employers must first assess the hazards in their workplace and maintain work practice controls. Where respirators are required, a protection program must be implemented.

The general industry and construction industry both must comply with OSHA's Occupational Noise Standard. This means employers should, as with respiratory hazards, assess the workplace for noise hazards and determine noise exposure levels; maintain work practice controls; and provide the proper hearing protection. When exposure reaches a certain level, a hearing conservation program is to be implemented.

The staffing agency, for its part, must ensure that workers know about potential hazards and wear the hearing protection. It should be familiar with noise exposure hazards and controls and communicate regularly with employers and employees alike about them.

Workplace injuries like exposure to noise or chemicals can result in temporary or even permanent disabilities. Workers can file for compensation, though, and be covered for their medical expenses, a portion of their lost wages and short- or long-term disability leave. Workers' comp benefits can be paid out regardless of who is to blame, but it must be proven that the accident was work-related and the injuries accident-related. A lawyer could assist with the filing process and even mount an appeal if the claim is denied.

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