New U.S. Rule Clarifies PPE Standard in Construction

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The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) (Washington, DC, USA) recently announced a notice of proposed rulemaking to clarify the personal protective equipment (PPE) standard for the construction industry.

According to the agency, the current standard does not state clearly that PPE must fit each affected employee properly. By contrast, the general industry and maritime standards from the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) do make clear statements, DOL says.

As such, the proposed change would clarify that PPE must fit each employee properly to protect them from occupational hazards. 

“If personal protective equipment does not fit properly, an employee may be unprotected or dangerously exposed to hazards and face tragic consequences,” says Doug Parker, assistant secretary for occupational safety and health. 

The failure of standard-sized PPE to protect physically smaller construction workers properly, as well as problems with access to properly fitting PPE, are among longstanding concerns related to safety and health in the construction industry—and especially for some women. 

The proposed rule clarifies the existing requirement, and OSHA does not expect the change will increase employers’ costs or compliance burdens. The proposed revision would align the language in OSHA’s PPE standard for construction with standards for general industry and maritime.

PPE must fit properly to provide adequate protection to employees, according to DOL. Improperly fitting PPE may fail to provide any protection to an employee, present additional hazards, or discourage employees from using such equipment in the workplace.

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