For some time, OSHA has been considering updating its rules on personal protective equipment (PPE). The final rule has now been published and it requires employers to provide personal protective equipment to every covered employee. In addition, each covered employee must receive training on the use of PPE. Each failure to provide PPE, or meet the training requirements, constitutes a separate violation. That is to say, an employer can be cited and fined separately for each employee who fails to receive PPE or PPE training.
The final rule was published in the Federal Register on December 12, 2008, and became effective on January 12, 2009. The General Industry Standard reads as follows:
1910.9 Compliance duties owed to each employee.
(a) Personal protective equipment. Standards in this part requiring the employer to provide personal protective equipment (PPE), including respirators and other types of PPE, because of hazards to employees impose a separate compliance duty with respect to each employee covered by the requirement. The employer must provide PPE to each employee required to use the PPE, and each failure to provide PPE to an employee may be considered a separate violation.
(b) Training. Standards in this part requiring training on hazards and related matters, such as standards requiring that employees receive training or that the employer train employees, provide training to employees, or institute or implement a training program, impose a separate compliance duty with respect to each employee covered by the requirement. The employer must train each affected employee in the manner required by the standard and each failure to train an employee may be considered a separate violation.
Employers would be well advised to create a system for documenting that each employee has received the PPE required for the performance of their individual job, and also that they have been given training on how to use that PPE. As examples, employers might consider asking employees to sign a receipt listing the PPE provided to them; requiring new employees to undergo PPE training prior to starting work; and, having attendees sign an attendance log showing that they, in fact, attended PPE training.