OSHA Seeks Comments on Proposed Rule Regarding Clarifications to Its Personal Protective Equipment Standard for Construction
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published a proposed rule to revise its personal protective equipment (PPE) standard for construction to explicitly require that PPE must fit properly to protect workers from workplace hazards.
OSHA notes that PPE that “properly fits” means the PPE is the appropriate size to provide an employee with the necessary protection from hazards and does not create additional safety and health hazards arising from being either too small or too large. OSHA reasons that when PPE fits properly, employees are unlikely to discard or modify it because of discomfort or interference with their work activities. OSHA adds that it is not concerned with the cosmetic appearance, or “exact fit” of PPE. The proposed standard therefore does not include the phrase “exact fit” in the regulatory text. Instead, the proposed rule uses the phrase “properly fits,” consistent with the OSHA general industry and maritime PPE standards. As a result, OSHA anticipates that application/enforcement of the proposed language requiring properly fitting PPE in the construction standard would align with its application and enforcement of the PPE standards for general industry and maritime.
OSHA is requesting feedback on all elements of the proposed rule, including responses to a series of specific questions contained throughout the preamble text and in a separate section entitled, “Issues for Comment.” These questions address: (1) whether the proposed regulatory language is appropriate; (2) whether the inclusion of an explicit fit requirement would help clarify construction employers’ obligations to provide properly fitting PPE to their employees; (3) whether there is confusion about what “properly fits” means for PPE used in the construction industry; (4) whether existing OSHA guidance regarding PPE “proper fit” in construction is adequate and, if not, what type of additional guidance OSHA should provide; (5) whether the proposed rule will better effectuate the purposes of the OSH Act than applicable national consensus standards; (6) whether there are differences between general industry/maritime and the construction industry that impact whether OSHA should include the phrase “properly fits” in the construction standard; (7) the availability of PPE for persons who may be smaller or larger than the average worker in the construction industry or for persons with other physical characteristics that differ from the average worker; (8) whether there are types of PPE that are not available in varying sizes; (9) whether revising the construction standard to mirror the language in the current general industry and maritime standards would change how employers choose PPE for their employees; and (10) the burden, if any, that the proposed change would impose on employers in the construction industry.
Comments, hearing requests, and related information are due by September 18, 2023 and can be submitted here using Docket ID: OSHA-2019-0003.
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