OSHA (Occupational Health and Safety Administration) has issued numerous safety standards for specific industries, mandating that employers require employees in those industries require employees to use personal protection equipment (PPE) on the job. For instance, hard hats are required in the construction industry as well as the use of fall protection equipment. Some OSHA standards require the employer to pay for the PPE and in other cases OSHA has been silent.
This changed on February 13, 2008 when OSHA issued a new standard REQUIRING employers to provide appropriate PPE when the equipment is necessary to protect employees from job-related injuries, illnesses and fatalities. There is to be NO COST to employees. The rule must be fully implemented by May 15, 2008. Section 1910.132 requires that “protective equipment for eyes, face, head, and extremities, protective clothing, respiratory devices, and protective shields and barriers shall be provided, used, and maintained in a sanitary and reliable condition wherever it is necessary by reason of hazards of processes or environment, chemical hazards, radiological hazards or mechanical irritant5s encountered in a manner capable of causing injury or impairment in the function of any part of the body through absorption inhalation or physical contact.”
The work function and the probability of exposure is best addressed through a job hazard analysis – Check Out: How to Conduct a Job Hazard Analysis
To summarize, employers are required to provide a hazard free environment for employees. Anyone who encounters hazardous conditions must be protected against them. Personal protective clothing and equipment is designed to shield workers from the chemical, physical, and biological hazards that may be present in the workplace. When the type and degree of protection are being considered, the employer must evaluate the following:
The predominant physical, chemical, or toxic property of the material. For instance, protection against a corrosive compound is different from what is needed for a compound that gives off a toxic vapor.
Once the hazard has been identified appropriate PPE can be selected and the level of protection must be adequate. This equipment ranges from protective helmets to prevent injury in construction and cargo handling work to hearing protection, eye protection, hard-toed shoes, special goggles and gauntlets to be used in welding and iron work.
Check Out: PPE Selection and Usage Guide
The use of PPE is specifically required by OSHA in 29 CFR1910 with various sections listing specific equipment required for protection in a variety of hazardous working conditions.
- Abrasive Blasting 1910.94(a) (5)
- Noise Exposure 1910.95(1)
- Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response 1910.120
- Fire brigades 1910(f)
- Welding, Cutting, and Brazing 1910.252(a)(5)
- Pulp, Paper and Paperboard Mills 1010.261(b)(2)
- Textiles 1910.262(qq)
- Pulpwood Logging 1910.266(c)(1)
- Asbestos Exposure 1910.1000(d)
- Hazard Communication Standard 1910.1200(h)(2)(iii) This OSHA rule REQUIRES employers to provide protective equipment to employees AT NO COST. If an employee provides his own protective equipment, it must meet OSHA standards and the employer is not required to reimburse the employee for its cost.