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Regulations (Preambles to Final Rules) - Table of Contents
• Record Type: Personal Protective Equipment for General Industry
• Section: 2
• Title: Section 2 - II. Workplace Hazards Involved

II. Workplace Hazards Involved

OSHA has determined that workers involved in a wide range of occupations are exposed to a significant risk of death or injury from being struck by various objects in the workplace. OSHA's incident data indicate that a significant portion of all work related injuries and fatalities involve workers being struck in the eyes, head, face, hand, and or feet by foreign objects. For example, it has been estimated that as many as 2,500 eye injuries occur in the workplace every working day (Ex. 2: 9).

One study indicated that there were 333,272 reported occupational eye injuries for 1985 (Ex. 2: 8). Another study, pertaining to disabling injuries, estimated that there were 320,000 hand and finger injuries, 70,000 eye injuries, 70,000 head and face injuries, and 110,000 foot and toe injuries in 1987. These injuries constituted 31.7 percent of the estimated 1,800,000 total disabling work injuries for 1987 (Ex. 2: 15).

These examples indicate the degree of the hazard to which employees are exposed. OSHA reviewed many sources that described the type and number of injuries to employees (e.g. Ex. 2: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22; Ex. 6: 2, 3, 4). While these sources differ as to the number and kind of injuries, they are consistent in pointing out the high incidence and severity of these accidents, and provide clear evidence of a significant risk to workers.

In particular, one data source reviewed by OSHA included the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Work Injury Reports (WIR) on eye, face, foot, head and hand injuries (Ex. 2: 11, 12, 13, 14; Ex. 6: 2). These reports, which examined only those cases where a worker was injured, identified two major factors: Personal protective equipment was not being worn the vast majority of the time; and, when some type of protective equipment was worn, it did not fully protect the worker. For example, one study (Ex. 6: 2) indicated that 70% of the workers experiencing hand injuries were not wearing gloves. Hand injuries to the remaining 30% of the workers who were wearing gloves were caused by the gloves being either inadequate, damaged, or the wrong type for the type of hazard present.

Based on the above-documented incidence of hand injury, OSHA has determined that employers and employees need more guidance regarding the selection of hand protection than is provided through the generic provisions of proposed 1910.132(d). Therefore, as discussed below, the Agency has provided performance-oriented provisions by adding 1910.138, "Hand protection" to the final rule.

The final rule addresses the problems identified in the BLS reports by allowing new innovative designs through the use of performance-oriented language, by providing information for selecting the proper protection, and by improving the protection afforded by the equipment.

OSHA believes that the revised standards will result in improvement in worker acceptance of wearing PPE by allowing better and more comfortable designs not presently permitted by the current standards, and by providing information on selecting the proper equipment for the job.

The Agency has determined that compliance with the final rule will result in a significant reduction in the risks to workers. As noted in the Regulatory Impact Analysis, discussed below, it is estimated that full compliance with the final rule will prevent 712,000 lost-workdays and 4 fatalities a year.

The Agency has also determined that the revised PPE requirements and criteria in the final rule provide a cost-effective means for reducing risks to workers. The Agency has determined that these provisions are reasonably necessary and appropriate to address the need for personal protective equipment.

[59 FR 16334, April 6, 1994]

Regulations (Preambles to Final Rules) - Table of Contents

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