Unions Sue Over OSHA Delay on Protective Clothing... January 5, 2007
IBEW Safety Caucus Meets... July 23, 2007
Employers Must Pay for Protective Equipment, OSHA Says
December 2, 2007
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has ruled that employers must pay for personal protective equipment, finally clarifying a 12-year-old law that said employers must provide such equipment.
Published on Nov. 15, the rule affects occupational safety and health standards in virtually every branch of the IBEW, including construction, utilities, broadcasting, manufacturing and telecommunications, as well as shipyard employment, marine terminals, general industry and longshoring. It will go into effect Feb. 15, and must be implemented within six months.
“This is a long time coming,” said IBEW Safety Department Director Jim Tomaseski.
Some labor groups are disappointed that the rule doesn’t go far enough to cover prescription eyewear and steel-toe boots, which OSHA decided were “personal in nature.”
Employers will now have to pay for work gloves, for instance. Until now, about half of employers did so, Tomaseski said. Fall protection equipment, including pole climbing equipment, is specifically mentioned in the rule as equipment that shall be purchased by the employer.
The National Electrical Contractors Association argued that OSHA should exclude items that fall under National Fire Protection Agency 70E voluntary standard for flame resistant clothing. OSHA decided that protective clothing is not yet required under its standards, but it would be covered under this rule if it were.
In cases where collective bargaining agreements contain provisions that some protective equipment will be paid by the employee, OSHA is allowing a six-month compliance deadline for those issues to be corrected.
When equipment is shared and chances for disease transmission increase, the rule says it must be sanitized before being passed along to another employee. Also, because an employee could expose family members to hazardous substances when taking home contaminated protective equipment, the employer must take every effort to limit the spread of chemical contaminants.
Certain types of everyday work clothing and weather-related clothing are also exceptions.