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Personal Protective Equipment in Construction Proposed Rule Change

By August 4, 2023February 5th, 2024No Comments
Personal Protective Equipment in Construction Proposed Rule Change - Construction Worker Wearing A Reflective Vest Holding a Hard Hat and Gloves

On July 20, 2023, OSHA proposed to revise its Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) standard in construction to explicitly require that the equipment must fit properly. This published proposal is open for comments until September 18, 2023. The proposed rule may be found here for review: Federal Register :: Personal Protective Equipment in Construction. The proposed revision to the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) standard for construction, in 29 CFR 1926.95(c), to explicitly state that PPE must fit properly to protect workers from workplace hazards would align the language in the PPE standard for construction with the corresponding language in OSHA’s PPE standards for general industry and maritime. The proposed revision would also affirm OSHA’s interpretation of its PPE standard for construction as requiring properly fitting PPE. The PPE standard was designed to protect employees through minimizing exposure to hazards that can cause severe injury or illness in the workplace by requiring PPE to be used when a worker is exposed to certain hazards. The current standard requires employers to provide and maintain PPE but does not state that safety gear must properly fit each employee. PPE includes many different types of protective equipment such as hard hats, gloves, safety glasses, safety shoes/boots, hearing protection, respirators, fall protection and more. For this equipment to protect workers as designed it must be appropriate and fit properly. This means employers must evaluate the hazards, train employees how to recognize hazards, select the appropriate PPE for the hazard, and train employees on use and fit of the PPE selected. For women in construction and men who do not fit within “normal” height and weight parameters, this can be difficult. A “one size fits all” protective measure is not adequate and can present additional exposures or hazards to the user, such as:

  • Protective clothing that is too long can present trip hazards.
  • Gloves that do not fit properly put workers at risk of losing control of tools or powered equipment.
  • Harnesses not large enough or too big expose workers to elevated falls.

Improper fitting PPE not only exposes the user to injury, but potentially co-workers as well. PPE needs to fit all workers–both men and women, short/tall and large/small–to provide the protection it was designed for. OSHA’s proposed rule change will secure the existing rule in construction to make it clear that workers of all sizes have the right to properly fitting PPE.

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