…and another thing on OSHA’s PPE rule

In my post yesterday “OSHA issues PPE rule: what took’em so long?” I forgot to mention that OSHA is giving employers six months to comply with it.  Recall that this egregiously tardy rule simply clarifies when employers are supposed to pay for personal protective equipment (PPE).  As Asst. Secretary Edwin Foulke repeated in his announcement yesterday, the rule: “only addresses the issue of who pays for PPE, not the types of PPE an employer must provide….the rule does not require employers to provide PPE where none has been required before…”

If the rule is only providing clarification about who pays for PPE, and OSHA estimates that 95% of PPE is already paid appropriately by employers, why is OSHA giving employers 6 months to fix a 5% problem?   Back in 1978, under Eula Bingham’s leadership at OSHA, the agency issued a comprehensive standard to protect workers from lead poisoning.  Did the government give employers six months to start protecting workers?  Nope.  Not six months, not even three months.  Employers were given just 72 days to comply with the lead standard.  Yet another example of how the U.S. regulatory system for protecting workers has eroded. 

Comments

  1. #1 Mark
    November 15, 2007

    Thanks for your observation and for reminding us of a positive example from the past.

  2. #2 Celeste Monforton
    November 15, 2007

    When I have a little spare time, I’d love to put together a short document which shows the date of each proposed OSHA rule, when it was issued as final, and their effective dates. I suspect that in the agency’s early years, there was a much stronger commitment to not only getting these protections on the books, but for short turnaround times for compliance so that workers were protected as quickly as possible. Now it seems, that a trade association or some other anti-worker protection group, just has to say “BOO” and OSHA, OMB and/or the White House, bends over backwards to make requirements as palatable as possible. We need more workers and worker-advocacy groups saying something louder and scarier!

    Thanks for reading The Pump Handle.

  3. #3 Jeff
    November 20, 2007

    Thank you for the great analyses of this issue. I’ve just started a new job involving the research and analysis of EH&S issues and your posts have really helped me get up to speed.

  4. #4 Celeste Monforton
    November 20, 2007

    Jeff,
    Glad to know you’re reading The Pump Handle!

  5. #5 Trinifar
    November 21, 2007

    Did my earlier comment get caught in the spam filter?

  6. #6 Liz
    November 21, 2007

    Possibly … was it on this post? (I see we have one from you on a more recent post.)

    FYI to everyone, we use a spam filter, and it catches too many spam comments for us to be able to look at them all (there are more than 2,000 in it right now from the past few days). We do appreciate it when people let us know that a comment seems to have gone missing.

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