The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued the Enforcement Guidance for Personal Protective Equipment in General Industry, a directive that provides enforcement personnel with instructions for determining whether employers have complied with OSHA personal protective equipment standards. The directive became effective on February 10.
OSHA issued a final rule on Employer Payment for Personal Protective Equipment in November 2007. The rule required employers in general industry, shipyard employment, longshoring, marine terminals and construction to provide most types of required PPE at no cost to the worker. The agency also issued a final rule in September 2009 updating its PPE standards to make them more consistent with current consensus standards.
The new directive replaces Inspection Guidelines for 29 CFR 1910 Subpart I, the revised Personal Protective Equipment Standards for General Industry issued in June 1995. Changes include clarifying what type of PPE employers must provide at no cost to workers and when employers are required (and not required) to pay for PPE. The directive also provides guidance that allows employers to use PPE that complies with current consensus standards and updates PPE enforcement policies based on court and review commission decisions.
These personal protective equipment standards require employers to provide – at no cost to workers – protective equipment, such as goggles and face shields that fit properly without restricting vision; earplugs and earmuffs when they will reduce noise to acceptable levels and are less costly than administrative and engineering controls; and respirators to protect workers from exposure to air contaminants. Additionally, the directive lists PPE and other items exempted from the employer payment requirements and includes questions and answers useful in clarifying PPE payment concerns.