Question: If an employee with a neatly trimmed goatee is wearing a respirator and it does not interfere with the seal of the face piece or valve function, and has passed a fit test, does this meet the intent of the OSHA’s Respiratory Protection standard?

Response: The Respiratory Protection standard, paragraph 29 CFR 1910.134(g)(1)(i)(A), states that respirators shall not be worn when facial hair comes between the sealing surface of the facepiece and the face or that interferes with valve function. Facial hair is allowed as long as it does not protrude under the respirator seal, or extend far enough to interfere with the device's valve function. Short mustaches, sideburns, and small goatees that are neatly trimmed so that no hair compromises the seal of the respirator usually do not present a hazard and, therefore, do not violate paragraph 1910.134(g)(1)(i).

As usual, OSHA released their annual news at the National Safety Council's Congress and Expo... OSHA's Top 10 Standards Cited.  The Top 10 for FY 2016* are:

# Topic OSHA Std # of Citations
1 Fall Protection 1926.501 6,929
2 Hazard Communication 1910.1200 5,677
3 Scaffolds 1926.451 3,906
4 Respiratory Protection 1910.134 3,585
5 Lockout/Tagout 1910.147 3,414
6 Powered Industrial Trucks 1910.178 2,860
7 Ladders 1926.1053 2,639
8 Machine Guarding 1910.212 2,451
9 Electrical Wiring 1910.305 1,940
10 Electrical, General Requirements 1910.303 1,704

*Preliminary figures as of Sept. 30, 2016

These past two weeks we have seen some interesting developments on two OSHA actions: 1) anti-retaliation provisions in the new record-keeping rule and 2) Walking-Working Surfaces and Personal Protective Equipment (Fall Protection Systems) in General Industry (Subpart D and Subpart I) .  It seems a judge has delayed OSHA's enforcement of its anti-retaliation provisions in the new record-keeping rule from November 1st to December 1st.  On a brighter front, we learned late last week that OSHA's Walking-Working Surfaces and Personal Protective Equipment (Fall Protection Systems) in General Industry (Subpart D and Subpart I) cleared the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB).  This effort started way back before my time (1990) and was recently attempted back in 2010; it now looks to get final passage.

OSHA has issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to add two (2) quantitative fit-testing protocols to the agency's Respiratory Protection Standard. The protocols would apply to employers in the general, shipyard and construction industries.  This proposed rulemaking would allow employers greater flexibility in choosing fit-testing methods for employees. The proposed rule would NOT require an employer to update or replace current fit-testing methods, as long as the fit-testing method(s) currently in use meet existing standards. The proposal also would not impose additional costs on any private- or public-sector entity.

As part of an ongoing effort to revise provisions in its standards that may be confusing, outdated or unnecessary, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is proposing 18 changes to the agency's recordkeeping, general industry, maritime and construction standards.  The proposed revisions would save employers an estimated $3.2 million per year. They are based on responses to a public Request for Information issued in 2012 as well as recommendations from the Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health, OSHA staff, and the Office of Management and Budget.  Individuals may submit comments electronically via the Federal eRulemaking Portal at Comments also may be submitted by facsimile or mail. See the Federal Register notice for details.  Comments must be submitted by Dec. 5, 2016.

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