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.