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OSHA Proposes Revision to Personal Protective Equipment Standard in Construction

International Union BAC
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Properly-fitting personal protective equipment (PPE) is essential in the construction industry. Too often, ill-fitting PPE does not provide workers with adequate protection, and may increase the risk for illness, injury, and death. For example, loose-fitting gloves can get caught in machinery or cause the worker to improperly handle materials or tools. Similarly, loose-fitting safety harnesses can be the cause of a failed arrest in case of a fall.

Several factors, such as gender, sex, race, ethnicity, age, shape, and size, can affect proper fit. This issue is especially important to smaller construction workers, often women, who may not be able to use standard-size PPE. It is not exclusive to women, however, as male workers also can experience the same difficulty finding properly-fitting PPE.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) currently requires construction industry PPE to fit properly. Proper fit of PPE is incorporated into existing requirements that PPE be provided by an employer in a reliable condition, that employee-owned PPE be adequate, and that PPE be of safe design. OSHA also states in compliance assistance documents that PPE must fit properly to provide protection from hazards.

The proposed rule would go further to clarify the requirement and make it more understandable for the industry by explicitly stating that PPE must properly fit each worker, no matter how big or small they are. It would make the PPE fit requirement for the construction industry identical to general industry and maritime requirements.

OSHA’s public comments on the proposed revision closed on September 18, 2023. They are in the process of reviewing comments and will hold hearings, if necessary, before publishing the proposed rule.

For more information on the proposed rule, visit OSHA’s website, and view the entire proposed rule at The Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR) maintains a list of commercially available PPE for women construction workers. To view the list, click here.

Originally published in the BAC Journal Issue 1, 2024.