OSHA made the announcement last week that it had adopted the final form of its original 1999 standard. This requires employers to pay for personal protective equipment—clothing and gear—for workers, which advocates say will prevent thousands workplace injuries.
Currently, workers are paying for their own safety equipment—boots and safety goggles, for example—when it was not provided by the employer.
The decision comes about 10 months after two labor groups—the AFL-CIO and United Food and Commercial Workers International Union—filed a lawsuit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. The lawsuit was in response to OSHA’s failure to issue the standard, claiming that workers were being endangered as a result.
The rule will go into effect May 2008.
OSHA said in a statement that the rule creates a clear and consistent policy and reduces confusion about what employers are required to pay for. It added that the rule will result in at least 21,000 fewer occupational injuries per year. In 2006, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported more than 4 million worker injuries and more than 5,700 deaths in the private sector.
Advocates for the rule said they are pleased that rule was issued, but in a joint statement the AFL-CIO and UFCW said they will be reviewing the rule to determine if it provides workers with the level of protection that is needed and required by law.