OSHA Updating Eye & Face Protection Standards In Construction

eye&faceOSHA is finally getting around to updating its construction industry standards for eye and face protection. A proposed rule was published in the Federal Register on March 13, 2015 that would update the standards to be more in line with the general industry and maritime industry standards for eye and face protection. The purpose is to get the OSHA standards up to date with the current national consensus standards, i.e., incorporate the latest American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standards.

OSHA is planning to update the general industry and maritime industry standards as well. Those were last updated in 2009, but do not reflect the most current ANSI standards. The construction industry eye and face protection rules were last updated in 1993. Apparently OSHA didn’t have the resources available to update the construction industry standards when it updated the others last time.

Most of the changes to the construction industry standards for eye and face protection involve replacing current language with the language found in the general industry standards. The construction industry standards will be dropping the references to the ANSI Z78.1-1968 standard and replace it with the three most recent ANSI standards related to eye and face protections, ANSI Z78.1-2010, ANSI Z78.1-2003 and ANSI Z78.1-1989 (R-1998).

This means that construction employers will be able to use eye and face protection manufactured according to any of the three most current ANSI standards they choose. Remember, employers are required to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) like eye and face protection to employees at no charge. Employers will also be able to use eye and face protection not manufactured to any of the three most recent ANSI standards if they can at least prove it is compliant with one of those three standards.

In addition to changing language in the construction standards for eye and face protection to match up with general industry standards, it also deletes some requirements since they are already covered in the ANSI standards being adopted. The proposed changes will retain the requirements for being durable, easily cleanable and capable of being disinfected since ANSI Z78.1-2010 doesn’t include those requirements.

Comments for the proposed rule are being accepted by April 13, 2015. Because this is just proposed rulemaking, there is no guarantee that these standards will ever be made final or that changes won’t be made if or when a final rule is issued.

Here’s a look at some of the other rulemakings OSHA is planning to release in 2015 that are construction industry standards or apply to the construction:

Final Rule – Confined Spaces in Construction

Final Rule – Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses

Final Rule – Walking Working Surfaces and Personal Fall Protection Systems (Slips, Trips, and Fall Prevention)

Proposed Rule – Occupational Exposure to Crystalline Silica

Proposed Rule – Occupational Exposure to Beryllium

Proposed Rule – Amendments to the Cranes and Derricks in Construction Standard

Proposed Rule – Crane Operator Qualification in Construction

Proposed Rule – Quantitative Fit Testing Protocol: Amendment to the Final Rule on Respiratory Protection

Proposed Rule – Clarification of Employer’s Continuing Obligation to Make and Maintain Accurate Records of Each Recordable Injury and Illness

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