Posted by Heidi Schwartz
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has published a proposed revision to its Eye and Face Protection Standards that updates personal protective equipment requirements in the agency’s general industry, shipyard employment, longshoring, marine terminals, and construction standards. The proposed revisions will reflect current national consensus standards and ensure that employers use up-to-date eye and face protection during hazardous workplace operations.
Individuals may submit comments to the NPRM electronically at http://www.regulations.gov, the Federal eRulemaking Portal, by mail or facsimile. See the Federal Register notice for details. Comments must be submitted by April 13, 2015.
The original OSHA standards addressing eye and face protection were adopted in 1971 from established Federal standards and national consensus standards to address the various workplace hazards that pose a significant risk of death or injury. Since then, OSHA has amended its standards on numerous occasions, most recently in 2009 for the general industry, shipyard employment, longshoring, and marine terminals standards (74 FR 46350), and in 1993 for the construction standard (58 FR 35309).
The general industry and maritime standards require that eye and face protection comply with national consensus standards incorporated by reference unless the employer demonstrates that non-specified eye and face protection equipment is at least as protective of workers.
The construction standard requires that eye and face protection meet the requirements of ANSI Z87.1-1968. Each of these provisions are part of OSHA’s comprehensive requirements to ensure that employees use personal protective equipment that will protect them from hazards in the workplace.
The proposed update to the construction eye and face protection standard involves: (1) Changes to the ANSI standard references and (2) inclusion of language from the general industry eye and face protection standard. With respect to the ANSI standard update, OSHA will amend 29 CFR 1926.6 and 1926.102 (which currently incorporate by reference ANSI Z87.1-1968) to include the three most recent versions of the ANSI standard, ANSI Z87.1-2010, ANSI Z87.1-2003, and ANSI Z87.1-1989 (R- 1998). With respect to the inclusion of language from the general industry standard, OSHA will modify certain existing language to make it nearly identical to the language in the general industry standard’s eye and face protection provisions. It will also retain provisions distinct to the current construction standard that do not appear to be covered in the versions of the ANSI Z87.1 incorporated by the proposal. These changes better reflect the requirements of the newer consensus standards and ease compliance for employers whose employees might also perform work covered by the general industry or maritime standards.
OSHA is undertaking a series of projects to incorporate the latest versions of national consensus and industry standards into its regulations. These projects include removing outdated national consensus and industry standards and updating regulatory text. On May 17, 2007, OSHA published a notice of proposed rulemaking (72 FR 27771) entitled “Updating OSHA Standards Based on National Consensus Standards; Personal Protective Equipment.” This notice did not include a revision of the construction industry standards that cover personal protective equipment, which had last been updated in 1993. 58 FR 35160. In response to the notice, the Agency received approximately 25 comments. On December 4, 2007, OSHA held an informal public hearing at which nine witnesses testified. Several of the commenters and witnesses questioned the Agency’s decision not to include the construction industry in this rulemaking. See Exs. OSHA- 2007-0044-0021 and -0034; see also, Tr. at 18-19 and 51-52. OSHA responded that limited resources did not permit inclusion of the construction industry at that time. Tr. at 18-19; see also, 74 FR 46352.
On September 9, 2009, OSHA published the final rule (74 FR 46350), which became effective on October 9, 2009, and pertained only to the general industry and maritime standards. The final rule did not include a reference to the 2010 edition of the ANSI standard because this edition was not available to OSHA prior to February 8, 2008, the date on which the administrative law judge who presided over the hearing closed the rulemaking record.
This Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) incorporates the latest American National Standards Institute eye and face protection standard, which was adopted after OSHA issued the final rule on personal protective equipment in 2009. The 2009 final rule did not modify the construction standard. This NPRM also updates language in the construction eye and face protection standard to make it more consistent with general industry and maritime standards.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.