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Labor Union - Labor Department to act on employee safety equipment

by Labor Union Thursday, Mar. 22, 2007 at 9:09 AM

WASHINGTON (AP)Labor Union — The Labor Department has agreed to issue rules outlining an employer’s responsibility for the cost of workers’ safety equipment — two months after a lawsuit by the AFL-CIO and the United Food and Commercial Workers seeking such regulations. www.LABORUNIONRESOURCES.ORG



“They’ve said they are committed to issue the rule in November 2007,” said Peg Seminario, safety and health director for the AFL-CIO. “They will now issue a final rule. That’s what we were seeking.”

An Occupational Safety and Health Administration rule, proposed in 1999 but never adopted in final form, would require employers to pay for protective clothing and other equipment used by millions of workers to protect them from job hazards.

The lawsuit claimed that failure to adopt those rules was endangering workers in industries such as meatpacking, poultry and construction.

The Labor Department on Wednesday asked the court to delay any action on the lawsuit because the rules on safety equipment would be issued in November.

The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.



Edwin Foulkes, assistant labor secretary for OSHA, said the filing of the motion showed “OSHA’s commitment to conclude its rulemaking in an orderly and expeditious manner.”

Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., questioned delays in getting the rules finalized, but praised the Labor Department’s decision.

“Although it shouldn’t have taken a lawsuit to get the Department of Labor to do the right thing, its good to see that the Department now plans to require employers to take simple steps to protect workers from everyday workplace hazards,” Miller said.

The unions agreed to the Labor Department’s request to delay consideration of the lawsuit, because of the department’s plan to issue those rules this November.

“A lot of companies do this already, but there is no legal obligation for them to do so,” Seminario said, referring to payment for safety equipment. “Most employers do pay for the safety equipment, but there are cases where employers do not.”

She said she expects the Labor Department rules will be issued by November and address organized labor’s concerns.

“If not,” she said, “we will see them back in court.”

For more Labor Union News visit : www.LABORUNIONRESOURCES.ORG

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