OSHA Updates Eye, Face Protection in Proposed Rule

By Roy Maurer Apr 2, 2015

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a proposed rule March 13, 2015, updating personal protective equipment standards for eye and face protection.

The proposal incorporates the most recent version of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Occupational and Educational Eye and Face Protection standard, developed in 2010. In addition, OSHA proposed to modify language in the construction standard to make it consistent with both the general industry and maritime standards.

OSHA’s Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health voted May 8, 2014, in support of OSHA proceeding with the proposal updating the agency’s construction standard on eye and face protection, bringing it in line with the latest ANSI consensus standard and making it consistent with the general industry and maritime standards.

The current construction standard on eye and face protection, based on ANSI’s 1968 consensus standard, is out-of-date, said Ken Stevanus, an official in OSHA’s directorate of standards and guidance.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

The proposed update establishes performance criteria and testing requirements for devices used to protect the eyes and face from injuries from impact, nonionizing radiation and chemical exposure. It covers all types of protector configurations, including spectacles, goggles, faceshields, welding helmets and full facepiece respirators.

The updated standard represents a dramatic change in the way the standard is organized, according to the International Safety Equipment Association (ISEA), which developed it. Earlier versions were organized by the type of protector. The updated standard focuses on the hazard, rather than protector type.

“A benefit of this hazard approach to the standard is that it will encourage users and employers to evaluate the specific hazards that they are exposed to in their environment,” ISEA said.

The standard includes descriptions and general requirements, as well as criteria for testing, marking, selection, use and care.

OSHA is accepting public comment on the proposed rule changes through April 13, 2015.

Roy Maurer is an online editor/manager for SHRM.

Follow him @SHRMRoy

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