The United States Department of Labor (DOL) is known for its commitment to safeguarding workers’ rights and ensuring their safety. One of the paramount issues within the construction industry revolves around the use of personal protective equipment (PPE). Recognizing this, the DOL has made a significant move to revise the PPE regulations, aligning them across various sectors.
A Brief Overview
The DOL recently made public its intention to modify the existing PPE standards in the construction industry through a notice of proposed rulemaking. This change is designed to bring about uniformity in the standards across construction, general industry, and maritime sectors.
Current State of Affairs
In its existing form, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) standard for PPE in the construction sector, found in 29 CFR 1926.95, covers the following:
- Provision and Maintenance: PPE should be provided, used, and maintained in a sanitary and reliable condition whenever it is necessary.
- Employer’s Responsibility: When employees bring their own PPE, it’s the employer’s responsibility to ensure its adequacy, proper maintenance, and sanitation.
- Safe Design and Construction: All PPE should be of safe design and construction for the work to be performed.
However, unlike its counterparts in general industry and maritime, the construction PPE standard does not explicitly require that PPE fits each employee properly.
What the Construction PPE Proposal Rule Entails
The DOL aims to rectify this discrepancy by proposing a revision to the OSHA’s construction PPE standard. The revision intends to emphasize that PPE must properly fit each employee to protect them from occupational hazards.
Standard-sized PPE can fail to safeguard physically smaller construction workers, and accessing properly fitting PPE can be challenging. These hurdles may particularly impact women. Without adequately fitting PPE, workers may be exposed to hazards or discouraged from using such equipment.
The proposed amendment adds language to OSHA standard 1926.95(c) to state that all employers must ensure PPE is of safe design and construction for the work to be performed and is “selected to ensure that it properly fits each affected employee.”
Impact of Construction PPE Proposed Rule
The DOL believes that the implementation of the proposed rule will not lead to an increase in costs or additional compliance burdens for employers. Instead, it will lead to safer workplaces and fewer occupational hazards.
The DOL’s initiative to refine PPE standards establishes its dedication to ensuring the safety and wellbeing of employees across all sectors. The proposed rule, once implemented, will not only provide a safer work environment for construction employees but will also foster a sense of inclusivity in the industry.
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The information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and should not be considered as legal or insurance advice. Please consult with a qualified professional for guidance tailored to your specific situation.