On July 19, 2023, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced a notice of proposed rulemaking intended to clarify the personal protective equipment (PPE) standard for the construction industry. The stated goal of this action is to align construction, general industry and maritime standards. Comments and hearing requests must be submitted by Sept. 18, 2023, and may be done so online through the Federal eRulemaking Portal, referencing Docket No. OSHA-2019-0003. Read on for more information.
Current OSHA Standard
The OSHA standard in 29 CFR 1926.95 addresses construction PPE requirements:
- Section 1926.95(a) states that all types of PPE “shall be provided, used, and maintained in a sanitary and reliable condition whenever it is necessary…”
- Section 1926.95(b) further notes that when employees provide their own PPE, “the employer shall be responsible to assure its adequacy, including proper maintenance, and sanitation of such equipment.”
- Section 1926.95(c) goes on to provide that all PPE “shall be of safe design and construction for the work to be performed.”
Unlike the general industry and maritime standards, the current OSHA construction PPE standard does not include an explicit requirement that PPE properly fit each affected employee.
Proposed Rule Overview
The proposed revision seeks to align the language in OSHA’s construction industry standard to the general industry and maritime standards by clarifying that PPE must properly fit each employee to protect them from occupational hazards.
The DOL has noted that standard-sized PPE can fail to protect physically smaller construction workers properly and that accessing properly fitting PPE can be difficult. These challenges may especially impact women. Without properly 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 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.” OSHA does not expect this change to increase employers’ costs or compliance burdens.
The assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health, Doug Parker, noted that they look forward to hearing from stakeholders on this issue as they work together to ensure construction workers are fitted properly with safety gear, regardless of their gender or size.