On July 19, 2023, OSHA issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to revise its construction personal protective equipment (PPE) standard to explicitly require that the equipment must properly fit the person wearing it.
Comments and hearing requests must be submitted by Sept. 18, 2023.
OSHA’s standard at 29 CFR 1926.95 sets out the requirements for PPE in construction. Section 1926.95(a) provides that all types of PPE “shall be provided, used, and maintained in a sanitary and reliable condition whenever it is necessary by reason of hazards.”
Section 1926.95(b) goes on to provide that, even when employees provide their own PPE, “the employer shall be responsible to assure its adequacy, including proper maintenance, and sanitation of such equipment.”
Section 1926.95(c) provides that all PPE “shall be of safe design and construction for the work to be performed.” Unlike the general industry and maritime PPE standards, the current PPE construction standard at section 1926.95 does not include an explicit requirement that PPE properly fit each affected employee.
The current standard 29 CFR 1926.95(c) does not state clearly that PPE must fit each affected employee properly; whereas, the general industry and maritime OSHA standards do. The proposed rule clarifies the existing requirement, and OSHA states it does not expect the change will increase employers’ costs or compliance burdens. The proposed revision would align the language in OSHA’s PPE standard for construction with standards for general industry and maritime.
The failure of standard-sized PPE to protect physically smaller construction workers properly, as well as problems with access to properly fitting PPE, have long been safety and health concerns in the construction industry, especially for some women. Improperly fitting PPE may fail to provide any protection to an employee, may present additional hazards, or may discourage employees from using such equipment in the workplace.
Employer Next Steps
Employers that are subject to the construction standard should review the NPRM and submit comments by Sept. 18, 2023.
Article Published By: Zywave, Inc.