PPE Hazard Assessments

Are you meeting all of the requirements?

Kurt Krueger, CIH
June 27, 2018

An Amazon Fulfillment Center is contesting an Other-than-Serious (OTS) citation with a $1,000 penalty for not meeting all of the requirements in the personal protective equipment (PPE) hazard assessment regulation – specifically 29 CFR 1910.132(d)(2). Ask almost any EHS professional and they will say, of course we know PPE hazard assessments are required. What may be forgotten, however, is the level of documentation that is also required.

29 CFR 1910.132(d)(2) reads as follows: 

The employer shall verify that the required workplace hazard assessment has been performed through a written certification that identifies the workplace evaluated; the person certifying that the evaluation has been performed; the date(s) of the hazard assessment; and, which identifies the document as a certification of hazard assessment.

Thus, the section cited requires that five elements of the hazard assessment be met:

  1. A workplace hazard assessment must be conducted;
  2. Written certification must identify the workplace that was evaluated;
  3. The person certifying that the evaluation has been performed must be identified;
  4. Date(s) of the hazard assessment must be provided; and
  5. The document must be identified as a certification of hazard assessment.

 While Amazon was cited for an OTS violation, if OSHA had inspected in response to a serious injury or illness (or found an injury and illness or medical record indicating that such had occurred), this citation could have been escalated to Serious because the occurrence of the serious injury or illness would “demonstrate” that the hazard assessment either had not been done or was not done properly.

It is also important to remember that this needs to be linked to the Management of Change (MOC) program so that both the hazard assessment and the associated documentation are updated when operational changes are made. For larger companies like many ORCHSE members, a sound hazard assessment process with a pattern of inadequate or out-of-date documentation may result in a broader corrective plan that could require a significant commitment of resources to avoid leaving “easy pickings” for OSHA inspections at other locations.

OSHA might even pursue a company-wide settlement agreement.  The fact that Amazon is contesting an OTS citation carrying a fine of just $1,000 suggests that it is concerned about the level of resource commitment to address documentation this citation might spawn across the company.

So, you might want to revisit your PPE hazard assessment process to confirm that assessments are being done well, documented properly, and linked to the MOC process.

Kurt Krueger, CIH

Kurt Krueger formerly served as principal consultant, workplace practice, with ORCHSE, an NSC workplace safety group.

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