OSHA Seeks to Update Personal Protective Equipment Standards

ON May 17, OSHA proposed to make its personal protective equipment (PPE) standards perpetually current, a simple step that might well work -- but only if those who routinely challenge the agency's standards accept or at least learn from the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals' May 11 decision upholding recognition of the threshold limit values.

Changing from updating them by adopting each specific new consensus standard in place of an old one, which freezes the mandatory standard at that point in time, OSHA said it wants to add a requirement that PPE be constructed "in accordance with good design standards." Whether genius or madness, this approach recognizes the reality of rulemaking: "Despite its best efforts, OSHA cannot propose and finalize its standards as frequently as the consensus standards development organizations (SDOs)," OSHA said in a May 17 rulemaking notice. "Some consensus standards are updated every three to five years; OSHA simply does not have the resources to engage in full rulemaking at this frequency for all of its PPE standards."

A section of the notice titled "The Provisions of the Proposal" spells out the agency's thinking: "The crux of the proposed revision is the requirement that the PPE be constructed in accordance with good design standards. Eye and face, head, and foot PPE are commonly worn in general industry, shipyard employment, longshoring and marine terminals. The PPE must be strong enough to protect employees from the hazards they face in the workplace. It also must be constructed and tested in accordance with sound and accepted principles that will ensure the safety of employees.

"An inherent part of any good design standard is a testing protocol for ensuring that the manufactured equipment will provide a specified level of protection. Accordingly, the requirement that the PPE be constructed in accordance with good design standards includes the requirement that the PPE be tested in accordance with a testing protocol that is designed to ensure that the PPE provides the level of protection the good design standard is intended to achieve," the agency said.

The notice then states OSHA has examined American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and ASTM International standards for these PPE types for the past 40 years. "OSHA has found that these standards reflect the state of the art in terms of design safety that existed at the time they were issued. Furthermore, each successive edition of these standards has improved the design features of the PPE. For example, a comparison between the 1989 and 2003 versions of the ANSI standard for protective eye and face equipment shows that ANSI has strengthened the impact resistance requirements of the standard. Similarly, the current ASTM International standard for footwear improves on prior ANSI standards for footwear by increasing protection against electrical hazards."

The agency stated that by replacing the existing PPE provisions with performance requirements, the proposal would "facilitate employer efforts to improve the safety and health of employees by providing state-of-the-art PPE. In addition, the proposal does not add any compliance burdens on employers."

According to the agency, these proposed revisions are a continuation of OSHA's effort to update references to specific consensus and industry standards located throughout the agency's standards, an initiative discussed in a previous Federal Register notice (69 FR 68283). That notice, published on Nov. 24, 2004, can be accessed at http://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=FEDERAL_REGISTER&p_id=18260.

Comments by July 16. Information on how to submit comments can be found in the May 17 Federal Register at http://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=FEDERAL_REGISTER&p_id=19573.

Download Center

HTML - No Current Item Deck
  • Safety Management Software - Free Demo

    IndustrySafe Safety Software’s comprehensive suite of modules help organizations to record and manage incidents, inspections, hazards, behavior based safety observations, and much more. Improve safety with an easy to use tool for tracking, notifying and reporting on key safety data.

  • Create Flexible Safety Dashboards

    IndustrySafe’s Dashboard Module allows organizations allows you to easily create and view safety KPIs to help you make informed business decisions. Our best of breed default indicators can also save you valuable time and effort in monitoring safety metrics.

  • Schedule and Record Observations

    IndustrySafe's Observations module allows managers, supervisors, and employees to conduct observations on employees involved in safety critical behavior. IndustrySafe’s pre-built BBS checklists may be used as is, or can be customized to better suit the needs of your organization.

  • Why Is Near Miss Reporting Important?

    A near miss is an accident that's waiting to happen. Learn how to investigate these close calls and prevent more serious incidents from occurring in the future.

  • Get the Ultimate Guide to Safety Training

    When it comes to safety training, no matter the industry, there are always questions regarding requirements and certifications. We’ve put together a guide on key safety training topics, requirements for certifications, and answers to common FAQs.

  • Industry Safe
comments powered by Disqus

OH&S Digital Edition

  • OHS Magazine Digital Edition - June 2019

    June 2019

    Featuring:

    • ASSP SAFETY 2019 PREVIEW
      New Orleans Networking
    • NATION SAFETY MONTH
      Heed These Summer Safety Tips
    • TRAINING
      Education, Skill Development, and Behavior Change
    • SAFETY MANAGEMENT
      What Good Looks Like
    View This Issue

Bulwark Quiz