The United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has proposed what it hopes will be non-controversial changes to its personal protective equipment (PPE) standards for eye and face protection in all covered industry sectors except agriculture. OSHA’s initiative
is part of a multi-year agency undertaking to update consensus standards referenced in its rules.
In a Federal Register notice issued on a March 13, 2015, the agency proposed to update its PPE standards in general industry,construction, maritime terminals, shipyards, and longshoring to conform to the American National Standards Institute’s 2010 consensus standard ANSI Z87.1, Occupational and Educational Personal Eye and Face Protection Devices.
The Z87.1 standard is the latest in a series of ANSI updates to its eye and face protection standards. The last was released in 2003. In OSHA’s notice, the agency said the 2010 version differs from earlier ones by focusing on a hazard, such as droplet and splash, impact, optical radiation, dust and mist exposure, and specifying the type of equipment needed to protect workers from that hazard. The earlier versions focused on the type of protective gear, such as spectacles, goggles, face shields, or welding hats.
The 2010 ANSI consensus standard also contains general requirements for all types of protective equipment, assessing optical qualities, minimum
robustness, ignition thresholds, corrosion resistance, and minimum coverage. The OSHA construction rule for eye and face protection, 29 CFR 1926.102, has not been updated since 1993, while the rules for the other industry groups were last revised in 2009, according to the OSHA
notice. Those standards are:
• General industry: 29 CFR 1910.133
• Shipyards: 29 CFR 1915.153
• Marine terminals: 29 CFR 1917.91
• Longshoring: 29 CFR 1918.101
To provide consistency for employers engaged in multiple industry groups, the proposed changes also would revise portions of the construction standard to bring that rule’s language in line with the other four revised rules. Where older PPE continues to be used, the proposed OSHA standard would allow equipment to stay in use if the gear satisfied ANSI’s prior standards issued in 2003 and 1989. However, PPE that met only the requirements of the 1968 ANSI standard, allowed only under the current construction rule, would no longer meet OSHA requirements•