WASHINGTON — The United States Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is accepting public comments on a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) on personal protective equipment (PPE) and training standards. The proposal clarifies that when an OSHA standard requires an employer to provide PPE, such as respirators, or training to employees, the employer must do so for each employee subject to the requirement. Each employee not protected may be considered a separate violation for penalty purposes.
“We want employers to understand the importance of complying with OSHA’s PPE rule for each and every one of their employees,” says Edwin Foulke Jr., assistant secretary of labor for OSHA. “Without question, providing PPE for all employees will reduce costs, save money and, most importantly, save lives.”
The proposed rule affects OSHA’s general industry, construction and maritime standards. In many cases, OSHA combines separate violations of a single requirement in a standard into a single penalty. However, under the instance-by-instance penalty policy, OSHA can propose a separate penalty for each specific violation where the employer demonstrates a flagrant disregard for safety and health, OSHA says.
The proposed rule attempts to make clear that failure to provide appropriate PPE or training may result in per-instance penalties in appropriate cases. The proposed rule does not add new compliance obligations, nor are employers required to provide any new type of PPE or training. The amendments merely clarify that a separate penalty may be assessed for each employee not provided the required PPE or training.
OSHA will accept public comments on the proposed rule until Sept. 18. Interested parties can submit comments electronically at http://www.regulations.gov, the Federal eRulemaking Portal; by sending three copies to the OSHA Docket Office, U.S. Department of Labor, Room N-2625, 200 Constitution Ave. NW, Room N-2625, Washington, DC 20210; or by fax at 202-693-1678 if the comments and attachments do not exceed 10 pages. Comments must include the agency name and docket number for this rulemaking (this docket is OSHA-2008-0031). For more information, visit www.osha.gov.