- OSHA is proposing a new rule in order to clarify its personal protective equipment requirements for construction. This revision, published to the Federal Register on Thursday 19 July 2023, explicitly requires that PPE fit workers properly.
- The agency stated it proposed the rule to increase clarity. Currently, it does require construction employers to provide and maintain PPE and ensure employee-owned equipment is adequate, but it does not explicitly state that safety gear must properly fit each employee. This rule proposal would add that to the existing rule, to bring it into alignment with general industry and maritime standards.
- OSHA said that the rule could help to better protect women, who are sometimes frustrated with oversized gear and not as well protected as they could be. Even something as common as a safety vest can become an irritant in low hazard environments like offices, by snagging on handles.
The idea of updating this rule is not new.
The agency’s Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health recommended OSHA propose the new PPE rule as part of its Standards Improvement Project IV, the agency said.
When the agency proposed SIP-IV in 2016, comments the agency received supported the PPE rule proposal, but some associations pushed back, citing costs and concerns around enforcement.
As a result, OSHA shelved the portion of SIP-IV about the PPE rule change.
Because the rule would clarify existing language, the agency says it believes there are no real costs associated with the proposal. However, because OSHA estimates about 10% of workers currently wear ill-fitting PPE, a one off, transitional expense for the entire industry could cost as much as $545,000, the proposal said.
Once published, OSHA will accept public comments on the rule until Sept. 18.