OSHA to Require Employers to Pay for Personal Protective Equipment

March 19, 2007

In response to a lawsuit filed by the AFL-CIO and the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), OSHA has agreed to issue a final rule on employer payment for personal protective equipment (PPE) for employees. In 1999, OSHA first proposed a PPE rule that would require employers to pay the costs of protective clothing, lifelines, face shields, gloves and other equipment used by an estimated 20 million workers to protect them from job hazards.

On January 3, 2007, the AFL-CIO and UFCW filed a lawsuit against the Bush Administration over its failure to finalize the payment for PPE rule. The court ordered the Bush Administration to respond to the lawsuit by March 19. On March 14, the Secretary of Labor filed papers with the court committing to issue a final rule in November 2007.

The rule was first announced in 1997 and proposed in 1999 by OSHA after a ruling by the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission that OSHA’s existing PPE standard could not be interpreted to require employers to pay for protective equipment. The rule proposed in 1999 did not impose any new obligations on employers to provide safety equipment; it simply codified OSHA’s policy that employers, not employees, have the responsibility to pay for it.

In 1999, OSHA promised to issue the final PPE rule in July 2000. But it missed that deadline.

OSHA Notifies 14,000 Workplaces That They Have High Injury and Illness Rates

OSHA announced that approximately 14,000 employers have been notified that injury and illness rates at their worksites are higher than average and assistance is available to help them better protect their employees.

In a letter sent this month to those employers, OSHA explained the notification was a proactive step to motivate employers to take steps now to reduce those rates and improve the safety and health environment in their workplaces.

"This identification process is meant to raise awareness that injuries and illnesses are high at these facilities," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Edwin G. Foulke, Jr. "Injuries and illnesses are costly to employers in both personal and financial terms. Our goal is to identify workplaces where injury and illness rates are high and to persuade employers to use resources at their disposal to address these hazards and reduce occupational injuries and illnesses."

Establishments with the nation's high workplace injury and illness rates were identified by OSHA through employer-reported data from a 2006 survey of 80,000 worksites (the survey collected data from calendar year 2005). The workplaces identified had 5.3 or more injuries or illnesses resulting in days away from work, restricted work activity, or job transfer (DART) for every 100 full-time workers. The national average during 2006 was 2.4 DART instances for every 100 workers.

Employers receiving the letters were also provided copies of their injury and illness data, along with a list of the most frequently violated OSHA standards for their specific industry. The letter also offered assistance in helping turn the numbers around by suggesting, among other things, the use of free OSHA safety and health consultation services provided through the states, state workers' compensation agencies, insurance carriers, or outside safety and health consultants.

The list does not designate those earmarked for any future inspections. An announcement of targeted inspections will be made later this year. Also, the worksites listed are establishments in states covered by federal OSHA; the list does not include employers in the 21 states and Puerto Rico, who operate OSHA-approved state plans covering the private sector.

OSHA's data collection initiative is conducted each year to provide the agency with a clearer picture of those establishments with higher than average injury and illness rates. Information obtained from the survey gives OSHA the opportunity to place inspection resources where they're needed most and also helps the agency plan outreach and compliance assistance programs where they will be most beneficial.


Guide to Help Protect Employees from Amputation

"Amputations are among the most severe and disabling workplace injuries that result in permanent disability. They are widespread and involve various activities and equipment," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA, Edwin G. Foulke, Jr. "These injuries result from the use and care of machines such as saws, presses, conveyors, and bending, rolling or shaping machines as well as from powered and non-powered hand tools, forklifts, doors, trash compactors, and during materials handling activities. Our revised guide offers practical information for the small business employer to identify and manage common amputation hazards associated with the operation and care of machines."

The revised OSHA guide identifies eight mechanical motions and eight hazardous actions that present possible amputation hazards. The guide also sets forth steps employers can take to reduce these hazards.

The material in Safeguarding Equipment and Protecting Employees from Amputations is appropriate for anyone responsible for the operation, servicing, and care of machines or equipment—employers, employees, safety professionals, and industrial hygienists. Topics covered in the latest document include hazard analysis, safeguarding machinery, awareness devices, and hazardous energy (lockout/tagout).

Printed copies of OSHA's revised guide are available by calling (202) 693-1888, or by writing U.S. Department of Labor, OSHA Publications, P.O. Box 37535, Washington, D.C. 20013-7535. 


OSHA Proposes More than $65,000 in Penalties for Horton Homes


OSHA has cited Horton Homes Inc., and proposed penalties totaling $65,500 for safety and health violations at the company's manufactured housing facility in Eatonton, Ga.

"OSHA conducts comprehensive inspections through our Site-Specific Targeting program, which allows us to focus on workplaces with higher-than-average rates of injuries and illnesses," said Gei-Thae Breezley, director of the agency's Atlanta East Area Office. "In this case, the investigation revealed that Horton Homes failed, through poor training and unsafe workplace practices, to protect employees' safety and health."

OSHA has issued 20 citations, with proposed penalties of $59,650, for serious safety violations including inadequate fall protection, machine guard hazards, improper storage of fuel gas cylinders, and electrical hazards. Serious citations are issued when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result and the employer knew, or should have known, of the hazard.

The company also has been cited for three serious health violations: lack of an effective hearing conservation program, lack of hazard communication training, and incorrect placement of earplugs. Proposed penalties total $4,950.

The remaining proposed penalties are for other-than-serious citations issued for improperly recording injuries and illnesses, failure to maintain sanitary bathroom facilities, and other violations.

MDI Exposure Controls Recommended for Truck Bed Liner Industry


The Center for the Polyurethanes Industry (CPI) of the American Chemistry Council, formerly known as the Alliance for the Polyurethanes Industry, has published a new document about exposure control in the truck bed liner (TBL) industry.

The new document, “Exposure Control Guidelines in the Truck Bed Liner Industry for Low Pressure System Applications,” provides general information and explains precautions and practices associated with the safe handling of MDI. Specifically, this document discusses engineering controls (e.g., adequate ventilation), personal protective equipment, and general work practices common to the TBL industry.

“OSHA’s air contaminant standard outlines the hierarchy of controls, specifying the implementation of engineering controls to achieve full compliance. Yet, constructing a spray enclosure with sufficient ventilation can be challenging for this industry, especially for smaller businesses,” says Barbara Cummings, Bayer MaterialScience LCC and chair of the CPI Truck Bed Liner Task Force. “We hope publication of this document will help address some of the commonly asked questions about exposure control in spray enclosures.”

This document was developed through an alliance with Region 5 of OSHA. Previous documents published by CPI on this topic include: “Truck Bed Liner: Worker Protection” and “Spray-on Truck Bed Liner Applications using MDI/PMDI: Seven Important Points.” 

OSHA Forms Partnerships with Three Construction Industry Groups


. The goal of these partnerships is to lower injury and illness rates through increased identification, evaluation and control of safety and health hazards in the workplace. 

Chest Compressions, Not Mouth-to Mouth, Best For Heart Attacks


A study published March 17, 2007 in The Lancet, one of the world's foremost medical journals, finds that the chances of surviving a cardiac arrest outside a hospital setting are almost twice as high if bystanders perform chest-compression-only resuscitation instead of traditional cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) with mouth-to-mouth breathing. The study analyzed the outcomes of resuscitation attempts performed by laypeople at the scene after they witnessed a person collapse due to cardiac arrest.

"The report confirms that what we have learned in animal experiments applies to humans as well," says Gordon A. Ewy, MD, director of the Sarver Heart Center at The University of Arizona in Tucson where chest-compression-only resuscitation was developed. "Bystander-initiated continuous chest compressions without mouth-to-mouth breathing are the preferable approach for witnessed unexpected collapse, which is usually due to cardiac arrest."

In an invited editorial titled "Cardiac Arrest - Guideline Changes Urgently Needed," published in the same issue of the journal, Ewy notes that eliminating the need for mouth-to-mouth ventilation not only is more effective, but also should dramatically increase the incidence of bystander-initiated resuscitation efforts. Ewy and the Resuscitation Research Group at the UA Sarver Heart Center have advocated continuous chest compressions without assisted breathing as the appropriate method for cardiac arrest for years.

The study reported in The Lancet analyzed the outcomes of 4,068 cases of witnessed collapse of adults in the Kanto area in Japan. The prospective, multi-center observational study, named SOS-KANTO, is the first large-scale account comparing the survival rates of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest patients who were treated either with or without mouth-to-mouth ventilations by bystanders at the scene. "For cardiac arrest, the term 'rescue breathing' is actually a paradox," says Ewy. "We now know that not only is it not helpful, but it's often harmful."

Studies showed that because current CPR guidelines call for mouth-to-mouth ventilations, the majority of people would not perform CPR on a stranger, partly out of fear of contracting diseases. Research by UA Sarver Heart Center member Karl B. Kern, MD, and others found that even if bystanders are willing to perform mouth-to-mouth ventilation, it takes too much time away from chest compressions, which have to be continuous to improve the chance of survival.

"We have found that the survival rate is higher even when the blood has less oxygen content, but is moved through the body by continuous chest compressions, than when the blood contains a lot of oxygen but is not circulated well because chest compressions are interrupted for mouth-to-mouth ventilations," Ewy says.

All studies on out-of-hospital cardiac arrest have shown that the chance of survival is greatest in patients whose heart is in a condition that allows paramedics to shock it back into a normal rhythm with a defibrillator. Among these patients, the SOS-KANTO researchers found the percentage surviving with a favorable neurological outcome to be 19.4 percent if bystanders administered chest compressions without mouth-to-mouth ventilations. In contrast, the favorable neurological survival rate in those who received chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth breathing was only 11.2 percent.

While the study provides unequivocal evidence that chest-compression-only resuscitation boosts survival rates for out-of-hospital cardiac arrest, Ewy points out that, for respiratory arrest such as near-drowning, drug overdose or choking, guideline CPR consisting of 2 breaths after every 30 chest compressions is still the appropriate method.

"This study confirms how critically dependent the outcome of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest is on the willingness of bystanders to activate emergency medical services and promptly initiate continuous chest compressions in a case of witnessed unexpected collapse in an adult," Ewy says.

"It is also very interesting to find how a sizeable group of laypeople, by spontaneously performing a technique that has neither been taught nor formally endorsed, achieved better outcomes than with a technique that has been advocated and taught at a cost of millions of dollars and millions of man-hours."


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