OSHA bulletins address respiratory, hearing protection for temp workers
Washington — Staffing agencies and host employers share responsibility for protecting temporary workers from respiratory and noise hazards, according to separate bulletins recently released by OSHA as part of its Temporary Worker Initiative.
Both documents include sample scenarios that explore what could happen if workers do not receive adequate training or protection.
One bulletin states that the agency’s Respiratory Protection Standard (1910.134) requires the use of appropriate respirators for general industry, construction and maritime (1915.154, 1917.92 and 1918.102). Employers must identify and evaluate possible workplace respiratory hazards and determine the correct type of respirator.
“While both the host and the staffing agency are responsible to ensure that the employee is properly protected in accordance with the standard, the employers may decide that a division of the responsibility may be appropriate,” the bulletin states. “Neither the host nor the staffing agency can require workers to provide or pay for their own respiratory protection when it is required.”
The document explains that the host employer typically handles the following:
- Evaluating exposure levels.
- Implementing and maintaining engineering, administrative and work practice controls.
- Maintaining a respiratory protection program when respirators are required.
The staffing agency is required to take reasonable steps to ensure workers are protected from hazards and must communicate regularly with workers and the host employer.
A second bulletin examines compliance with OSHA’s Occupational Noise Standard (1910.95) for general industry and construction. It directs the host employer to determine noise exposure levels; implement and maintain engineering, administrative and work practice controls; provide appropriate hearing protection; and maintain a hearing conservation program.
The staffing agency is required to:
- Maintain familiarity with established noise exposure hazards and controls.
- Inform workers of potential hazards and ensure workers have adequate hearing protection.
- Communicate regularly with workers and host employers about noise exposures.
“Neither the host nor the staffing agency can require workers to provide or pay for their own hearing protection devices or require workers to purchase such devices as a condition of employment or placement,” the bulletin states. “In addition, employees must be paid for the time spent receiving their audiograms, and the audiograms must be at no cost to the employee.”
Employers must initiate a valid baseline audiogram within six months of a worker’s first exposure at or above a time-weighted average of 85 decibels over an 8-hour period for general industry and 90 dBA for construction, according to the bulletin.