OSHA Moves Closer to Completing PPE Rule

In the agency's most recent regulatory agenda, released June 28, OSHA has promoted the PPE rule to the "final rule" stage; the standard had previously been designated a "long-term action."

Since the late 1990's, OSHA has been working on a standard that would clarify when employers are required to pay for their workers' personal protective equipment (PPE). OSHA indicated that it would re-open the record on the PPE rule only to obtain input on issues considered to be "tools of the trade." A source familiar with the rulemaking explained that this phrase refers to those items that certain workers may be expected to buy for themselves.

For example, day laborers in construction may have many different employers in the course of a month, so it could be burdensome for these employers to have to provide PPE for workers they might employ for only a few days. The question is what are the tools of the trade that construction day laborers must provide for themselves. Examples could include hard hats, safety boots and other personal items.

Other notable developments in OSHA's most recent rulemaking agenda include:

  • Cranes and Derricks negotiated rulemaking is to be completed by September, and the standard, formerly designated a long-term action, is now in the pre-rule stage;
  • Hearing Conservation for Construction Workers, previously a proposed rule, has slipped to the pre-rule stage as an additional stakeholder meeting is now scheduled for July 21;
  • Assigned Protection Factors, an amendment to the respiratory protection rule (29 CFR 1910.134) remains in the final rule stage, although after extending the comment period following a January public hearing, OSHA is now predicting final action will not take place until December;
  • OSHA appears to be on schedule to meet a court deadline of promulgating a proposed standard for hexavalent chromium by Oct. 4, as the most recent agenda has upgraded the standard to the proposed rule stage;
  • The agenda reveals no progress in the effort to update OSHA standards based on national consensus standards;
  • OSHA is now conceding increased delays for rules regulating occupational exposures to beryllium and ionizing radiation.
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