OSHA Updates Personal Protective Equipment Standards

The Department of Labor (DOL) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently revised the personal protective equipment (PPE) standards concerning requirements for eye- and face protective devices, and head and foot protection for general industry, shipyard employment, longshoring and marine terminals. The final rule, which becomes effective Oct. 9, 2009, “Is another step in OSHA's efforts to update or remove references to outdated national consensus and industry standards," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Jordan Barab.

According to the Federal Register notice, one of the changes includes “deleting editions of the national consensus standards that PPE must meet if purchased before a specified date.” The revisions to the standard require employers to follow guidelines from the most recent editions of applicable national consensus standards, standards set by groups like the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). The changes give the regulation sustainability, keeping it current as consensus standards evolve through time, and they also simplify compliance and enforcement.

"Workers exposed to occupational hazards requiring head, foot, or eye and face protection will now be provided protection based on a standard that reflects state-of-the-art technology and materials,” said Barab.

So, what does this mean for you if you’re the employer? Well, in an interview with EHS Today, from the article titled “OSHA Updates PPE Standards to Reference Consensus Standards,” the International Safety Equipment Association (ISEA) President Daniel K. Shipp summed it up nicely, he said, “It’s no great change. Companies will continue to use the same eye and face protection and head protection equipment they had been using that meets the current standard.” Shipp also concurred that the proposed changes will help to keep the regulation relevant in the future. He said, “We think the way that OSHA is proposing to update the standard will make it easier for the standard to stay up to date now with the state-of-the-art [advances] as new consensus standards are published.”

Visit OSHA's Web site to read the complete new release or click here to read the final rule in the Federal Register.

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