OSHA Clarifies Responsibilities for Protecting Temporary Workers from Noise, Airborne Contaminants
Two bulletins recently published by OSHA address respiratory protection and noise exposure and hearing conservation for temporary workers.  One bulletin addresses the protection of temporary workers who are exposed to airborne contaminants under OSHA’s general industry and maritime standards. OSHA states that staffing agencies and host employers are jointly responsible for ensuring that workers wear appropriate respirators when required, but that employers may decide that a division of the responsibility is appropriate. Because host employers have control over the processes and equipment that may produce respiratory hazards, they are primarily responsible for evaluating exposure levels, implementing and maintaining controls, providing appropriate respirators, and maintaining a respiratory protection program. According to OSHA, staffing agencies must also take “reasonable steps” to ensure that workers are protected from occupational hazards. Learn more from OSHA’s bulletin (PDF). The second bulletin describes what both host employers and staffing agencies can do to ensure that temporary workers who are exposed to hazardous noise levels are appropriately protected in accordance with OSHA standards. According to the agency, host employers are usually responsible for determining noise exposure levels; implementing and maintaining engineering, administrative, and work practice controls; providing appropriate hearing protection; and maintaining a hearing conservation program. Staffing agencies share responsibility for workers’ safety and health and are obligated to become familiar with noise exposure hazards and controls in place at host employers’ work sites prior to assigning workers. More information is available in the noise exposure and hearing conservation bulletin (PDF).
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