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OSHA’s Eye and Face Protection Revisions Move Forward
Regulatory updates to construction standard presented at ACCSH

By Roy Maurer  5/23/2014

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) proposed revisions to its personal protective equipment standard in construction advanced a step when an advisory panel voted on a technical matter and moved it forward.

OSHA’s Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health (ACCSH) voted on a regulatory option May 8, 2014, allowing OSHA to proceed with a proposal updating the agency’s construction standard on eye and face protection, bringing it in line with the latest consensus standards and making it consistent with the general industry standard.

Background

OSHA updated its personal protective equipment (PPE) standards for general industry and maritime work in 2009, incorporating a number of updated consensus standards governing the design and testing of eye and face, head, and foot protection. The construction standard was not updated at that time. In June 2012, OSHA again updated its PPE standard for head protection, including for construction work. In addition, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) published a new eye and face protection standard in 2010 (ANSI Z-87.1).

OSHA intends to publish a Direct Final Rule to incorporate the 2010 ANSI standard for general industry, maritime and construction. The rule is scheduled for publication in September 2014.

The construction standard on eye and face protection, based on ANSI’s 1968 consensus standard, is out of date, said Ken Stevanus, an official in OSHA’s directorate of standards and guidance.

“In view of the limited useful life of eye and face protection and the length of time since OSHA last updated its construction standard on eye and face protection, the agency believes that no manufacturers of eye-and-face-protection equipment currently test this equipment in accordance with the requirements of [the 1968 ANSI standard].”

Stevanus added that the construction industry already customarily relies on the most recent consensus standards and not on the 1968 version, and so the proposed rule will not be a compliance burden on employers.

“I believe that most are already purchasing equipment that complies,” said Kevin Cannon, director of safety and health services at the Associated General Contractors of America. “This primarily applies to the manufacturers of the safety equipment, which are also already meeting the ANSI standards referenced in the proposal.” To allow some compliance flexibility, OSHA does state in the proposal that if an employer can demonstrate eye and face protection equipment protects workers at least as effectively as equipment tested in accordance with ANSI Z-87.1, they will be deemed to be compliant, Cannon remarked.

Additional Construction Safety Updates

Dean McKenzie, deputy director for OSHA’s Directorate of Construction, discussed several construction safety directives near to launch. These include:

  • The final rule amending the cranes and derricks standard, mostly “technical details,” according to McKenzie. It was originally scheduled for January 2014.
  • A directive for OSHA compliance officers on how to cite various crane standard violations. It is currently waiting for approval from the Department of Labor’s Solicitor’s Office.
  • The confined space in construction update is near final approval and will be seen sometime this year. It was originally scheduled for publication in February 2014.
  • A communication tower safety directive is in the approval phase. It will address hoisting personnel for tower maintenance work, McKenzie said. OSHA also plans to collect more data during inspections, to better understand the industry’s contracting structure and ascertain who is ultimately responsible for workers’ safety.

McKenzie also spoke about the agency’s high expectations for the National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction event, scheduled for June 2-6, 2014. “This has been a wonderful outreach effort, not related to enforcement,” he said.

Roy Maurer is an online editor/manager for SHRM.

Follow him @SHRMRoy

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