OSHA Finalizes Rule on Workplace Eye and Face Protection

By SHRM Online staff Apr 1, 2016
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The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has published a final rule revising its eye and face protection standards.

The final rule, which becomes effective on April 25, will amend the requirements for general industry, shipyard employment, marine terminals, longshoring and construction by updating the references to national consensus standards approved by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), according to a notice published in the Federal Register on March 25.

The standard published by the institute and the International Safety Equipment Association (ISEA) prescribes the design, performance specifications and marking of safety eye and face products such as goggles and welding helmets. OSHA's final rule incorporates references to the 2010 version of the standard and deletes references to the 1989 version—the oldest edition of the same standard, according to the notice.

“This new rule will allow employers to continue to follow the existing ANSI standards referenced or allow employers to follow the latest version of the same ANSI/ISEA standard,” OSHA said in the notice. “Employers are not required to update or replace protection devices solely as a result of this rule and may continue to follow their current and usual practices for their eye and face protection. Therefore, this rule has no compliance or economic burdens associated with it.”

OSHA requires employers to ensure that their employees use eye and face protection where necessary to protect them against flying objects, splashes or droplets of hazardous chemicals, and other workplace hazards that could injure their eyes or face, according to the notice. The agency's standards state that the protection employers provide for their workers must meet specified consensus standards published by the institute or that employers must show that the protective devices used meet or exceed the consensus standards.

The final rule also modifies the language in the construction eye and face protection standard to make it more consistent with the general and maritime industry standards, according to the notice. The agency's last update to its eye and face protection requirements in 2009 did not address the construction standard, and those who commented on the proposed rule had urged OSHA to do so, according to the notice.

The agency said it received no significant objections from commenters to the proposed rule and is adopting the amendments as proposed, according to the notice. 

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