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Labor groups sue OSHA over PPE rule


WASHINGTON--Two labor groups are suing the U.S. Department of Labor for failing to issue a final rule that would require employers to pay for employees' personal protective equipment.

In a suit filed Wednesday in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, the AFL-CIO and the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union claimed that the government's failure to issue the standard--originally proposed by the Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration in 1999--is endangering workers.

"Nothing is standing in the way of OSHA issuing a final PPE rule to protect worker safety and health except the will to do so," said UFCW International President Joseph Hansen in a written statement announcing the suit.

"It is long overdue that the agency take action on protective equipment. Now, we are asking the courts to force OSHA to act," said Mr. Hansen in his statement.

"The case, which has not fully been reviewed by the U.S. Department of Labor, clearly deals with complicated issues that will affect different employers and employees in a variety of ways," said a Labor Department spokesperson. "The department takes pride in its excellent safety and enforcement record for workers, but on this issue a number of public comments we received take issue with the factual assumptions in our proposed rule."