ISEA Steps Up on Issues to Improve Worker Safety, Health through PPE Use

By Glucksman, Daniel I. | Occupational Hazards, July 2008 | Go to article overview

ISEA Steps Up on Issues to Improve Worker Safety, Health through PPE Use


Glucksman, Daniel I., Occupational Hazards


Throughout this summer and fall, the International Safety Equipment Association (ISEA) will engage the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and Congress on issues to improve worker safety and health by advancing the use of personal protective equipment (PPE).

Upcoming OSHA Proposals

OSHA has a number of upcoming proposed rules on protective equipment. Here are some ISEA is watching closely.

First is a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) to make clear employers must provide needed PPE and training to each employee, and that employers can be cited for each instance where needed PPE and training were not provided. Why is this regulation needed? In 2003, an employer did not provide respiratory protection to its employees, who were removing asbestos. OSHA fined the employer for each employee who did not get a respirator. Eric Ho, the employer, contested.

The Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission ruled that OSHA regu-lations for asbestos removal in construction allowed for only one citation, not per-instance violations. (Ho still had to pay a $658,000 fine). Now, OSHA is updating various standards to uniformly clarify that where PPE and training are required, they are required for each employee, and that a fine can be issued for each instance where needed PPE and training are not offered.

In May 2007, OSHA proposed to recognize any national consensus standard meeting three general requirements under the so-called "good design standard" concept. ISEA, its member companies and other organizations voiced strong opposition. OSHA intends to issue a final rule in November 2008. The final rule must be a logical extension of comments received in the docket. There was scant support for the rule in the docket. At a hearing in December 2007, all who testified opposed the proposal.

In August 2008, OSHA plans to publish a standard on tree trimming (there is no unified standard covering this work), which includes hazards such as electrocution, falls, and struck-by falling objects, as well as hazards associated with equipment used in tree-trimming work, including chippers, chain saws and stump cutters.

Finally, OSHA's "Walking Working Surfaces and Personal Fall Protection Systems" standard will address fall protection and other related issues. Publication of this proposed rule is slated for September 2008. ISEA has been told by key OSHA personnel that the agency has regulatory text, but that congressional attention on combustible dust diverted attention from this proposal. ISEA fall protection manufacturers were in Washington on June 30 to ask members of Congress to write to

OSHA asking that this regulation be published in September. OSHA and the DHHS have each proposed guidance documents on use of respiratory protection in a flu pandemic. OSHA's guidance document addresses respiratory protection use in the workplaces, while the DHHS guidance addresses respiratory protection use in the home and for other general purposes. …

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ISEA Steps Up on Issues to Improve Worker Safety, Health through PPE Use
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