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Bruce Roberts
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AFTER LAWSUIT LABOR DEPARTMENT FINALLY ACTS TO REQUIRE EMPLOYERS TO PURCHASE SAFETY EQUIPMENT FOR EMPLOYEES

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The United States Department of Labor has finally issued a set of rules detailing an employer’s responsibility for the purchase of workers’ safety equipment. Although the Occupational Health and Safety Administration issued proposals a little over seven years ago the Labor Department had never adopted it in final form until two months after a lawsuit was filed by the AFL CIO and the United Food and Commercial Workers.

The unions contended that the Department’s failure to adopt these rules was endangering workers in an industry such as meatpacking, poultry and construction.

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.