Accommodating the Allergic Employee in the Workplace
Brown, Nellie J.
[Excerpt] Once an employer learns an applicant or employee is allergic, and in need of an accommodation, the employer may be required by the Americans with Disabilities Act to provide the needed accommodation. The allergic worker may be able to respond to low levels of exposure, levels which may be lower than the relevant occupational exposure limits set by OSHA or recommended by agencies such as NIOSH or organizations such as the ACGIH. Accommodating the allergic employee would therefore generally involve reducing exposure further by providing specific protection for the sensitive individual, such as additional protective equipment which the average (nonallergic) worker probably wouldn't need. Protective equipment could involve the use of respirators for respiratory protection or protective clothing (such as gloves) or barrier creams for skin protection. The use of respirators would involve employer compliance with OSHA's Respiratory Protection Standard (29 CFR 1910.134) including the use of a physical to determine whether a worker could wear a respirator. Battery-powered respirators may enable those with pulmonary or cardiovascular problems to still use a respirator. Respirators made of silicone may enable someone to wear a respirator who has a rubber allergy (such as an allergy to mercaptobenzothiazole).
Employee; workplace; allergy; workplace safety; Americans with Disabilities Act
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