February has been a relatively quiet month for OSHA, big news includes new PPE enforcement guidelines, release of a new respiratory protection video, and an interactive timeline celebrating OSHA's 40 years of service.
- The first big news of the month was a new respiratory protection video discussing proper respirator use for healthcare workers. According to the press release, the video covers “the major components of a respiratory protection program including fit-testing, medical evaluations, training, and maintenance.”
- On Valentine’s Day, the Department of Labor released its fiscal year 2012 budget request, including OSHA’s Budget Justification. SafetyNewsAlert.com had a great article about the budget and its implications for future agency actions, you can read it here.
- One of the more notable actions the agency took in February was issuing OSHA’s enforcement guidance on personal protective equipment (PPEs). According the announcement, the document clarifies what type of PPE employers must provide at no cost to workers and when employers are required and not required to pay for PPE. For more information on PPEs and employer responsibilities, also check out OSHA’s Web page on personal protective equipment.
- Finally, this week OSHA published a fun, interactive timeline that looks back at its 40 year history. The timeline includes photos of past Assistant Secretaries, the creation of important standards, and a few low lights of devastating workplace tragedies.
The publishing of the timeline comes at a time when the agency is need of some good press. OSHA has taken a public lashing in recent weeks from Congress concerned that it is acting without proper communication with constituents, especially small businesses in the creation and publishing of safety directives.
It is speculated that the recent withdrawal of a proposed musculoskeletal column from the OSHA injury and illness logs, as well as the withdrawal of the occupational noise interpretation are directly related to concerns being raised in Congressional hearings.
Ending on a high note – Congratulations to OSHA on 40 important years in the health and safety of American workers.