ISEA Works with OSHA to Enhance Access To PPE Designed for Women

International Safety Equipment Association (ISEA) is working with a U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) advisory committee to provide information about and access to personal protective equipment that is sized, designed and styled for women.

The Women in Construction Work Group of OSHA's Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health (ACCSH) is looking for ways to make employers, employees and OSHA itself aware of the availability of PPE for women, as part of an effort to address the many issues related to women working in construction.

The ACCSH Women in Construction Work Group seeks to create a directory of suppliers of PPE for women construction workers, break down barriers that prevent women from working in construction, and post relevant studies about this topic.

The work group last year reached out to ISEA, and in December 2009, ISEA President Daniel K. Shipp addressed the group about the wide availability of PPE for women from ISEA members and the association's mission to protect all workers. Following that presentation, ISEA provided to the ACCSH a list of PPE for women from member companies.

ACCSH has asked that OSHA create resource pages on its Web site where the advisory committees and their work groups could post information. The Women in Construction Work Group plans to have its own page containing information including where to find PPE for women.

OSHA has a key role to play, too. The agency must include in the construction regulations the General Industry requirement that employers have a duty to “[s]elect PPE that properly fits each affected employee” (29 CFR 1910.132(d)(1)(iii)). Sounds simple, right? The construction regulations at 29 CFR 1926.28(a) require that “The employer is responsible for requiring the wearing of appropriate personal protective equipment…” but there is nothing about fit. ISEA and the ACCSH Work Group have called upon OSHA to add the fit requirement to the construction regulations.

Making Green Jobs Safe

As this article is written, ISEA plans to participate in OSHA's April 1 “Green Jobs” forum that is aimed at helping workers and small business employers understand the hazards posed by green jobs in construction, energy, and waste management and recycling. We are committed to working with our many partners to make certain that “green” jobs are safe jobs.

There's work to be done.

For example, President Obama has discussed rebates for homeowners who make their homes more energy efficient. There are various hazards associated with making homes (and other buildings) more energy efficient, including respiratory hazards associated with isocyanate, which comprises 50 percent of spray polyurethane foam (SPF) insulation.

A federal SPF working group, whose members include OSHA, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), Environmental Protection Agency, and the Consumer Product Safety Commission, notes that SPF is one of the fastest growing products in building and construction. However, isocyanates can lead to asthma and are potent lung allergens and irritants. In addition, polyols, the other half of SPF, have their own respiratory and vision hazards.

Given the situation, it is no wonder that OSHA announced a national emphasis program on isocyanates, and that OSHA and NIOSH are committed to making “green” jobs safe.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dan Glucksman is director of public affairs for the International Safety Equipment Association, where he directs the legislative and regulatory program for the association and its product groups. His “Washington Watch” column is a regular feature of Protec-tion Update. Reach him at [email protected] or 703-525-1695

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