This post was authored by Jon Schaefer, who is a member of Robinson+Cole’s Environmental, Energy + Telecommunications Group. Jon focuses his practice on environmental compliance counseling, occupational health and safety, permitting, site remediation, and litigation related to federal and state regulatory programs.

On July 20, 2023, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published a notice of proposed rulemaking to clarify the personal protective equipment (PPE) standard for the construction industry.

Currently, the PPE standard for the construction industry, unlike for general industry or maritime, does not state clearly that PPE must fit each affected employee properly. OSHA’s proposed change would clarify that PPE must fit each employee properly to protect them from occupational hazards. In the notice, OSHA expressed concern over the use of standard-size PPE to protect physically smaller construction workers properly, as well as access to properly fitting PPE, as these have long been safety and health concerns in the construction industry, especially for smaller-stature workers. The proposed rule clarifies the existing standard (29 CFR 1926.95).

While OSHA does not expect the change will increase employers’ costs or compliance burdens, it is reasonable to expect that employers will incur some costs to put in place new protocols, acquire new PPE, and confirm compliance. At the end of the day, OSHA is making it clear that they expect each employee on a construction worksite to have appropriate and properly fitting PPE.

OSHA is accepting comments, and hearing requests, on the proposed rulemaking through September 18, 2023. Comments must be submitted using the Federal eRulemaking Portal and reference Docket No. OSHA-2019-0003.