Date: Tue, 3 Oct 2006 22:16:29 -0500
Reply-To: Harry Elston <helston**At_Symbol_Here**FGI.NET>
Sender: DCHAS-L Discussion List <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU>
From: Harry Elston <helston**At_Symbol_Here**FGI.NET>
Subject: Re: Hold on a minute, Dr. E.
Comments: To: Steve
In-Reply-To: <**At_Symbol_Here**Garage>

General industry standards do not apply to student because they are 
not employees.  However the instructor IS an employee of the school 
district and general industry standards will apply to him/her.

Steve is comparing apples to oranges here: OSHA is not going to 
provide an enforcement action against a school district for student 
exposure.  It's out of their realm (i.e. the rules do not strictly 
apply) and they have bigger fish to fry, so to speak. However, OSHA 
is not the only concern here.   When little Johnny gets a snoot-full 
of ammonium hydroxide and gags for a couple of days or gets an acute 
overexposure of acid X, then there can be (and surely has been) civil 
litigation hell to pay.

While OSHA regulations do not strictly apply to students, a case can 
be easily made that the regulations provide the absolute minimum 
protection necessary to demonstrate that the school district is 
making an effort to provide protection to their students during the 
education process.  "Making an effort" is key here.  If the school is 
not making an effort to keep the students safe, that's called "Gross 
Negligence" and the stakes increase dramatically in litigation.

So, your logic isn't cutting it.  By the same logic students would 
not (or are not forced to) be offered the protection provided by a 
chemical hygiene plan, a bloodborne pathogens program (should they 
work with blood, I did in HS), a hazard communication program for 
exposure to chemicals outside a laboratory (such as agriculture), a 
hearing conservation program (for shop) or the like.  That just 
doesn't make any sense to me.  It may make a lot of sense to a school 
admin who wants to save a buck here or there.

To this safety professional, it's got a grey area at all.  If you're 
going to require PPE use in the academic setting, you'd darn well 
better do it correctly, which includes the risk assessment associated 
with it and following any applicable regulations and industry 
consensus standards.  To do less, you're opening large can of 
litigatory (yes, I made that up) whoop-fanny for the school district 
and its insurance carrier.

Fear of the almighty OSHA is not the reason we protect 
students.  Doing the right thing is why we protect students, and why 
I am an advocate for them.

I stand by what I've said.  You just can't slap a respirator on, suck 
in to see if you have a seal and call it good- that is not 
protection.  It's not because of OSHA or fear thereof. It's because 
doing the right thing requires effort, and OSHA regulations provide 
the baseline requirements for respirator use.


At 05:48 PM 10/3/2006, you wrote:
>Sadly, what Dr. Elston says about a structured respiratory protection
>program would be true if 29 CFR 1910.134 applied to students. According to
>29 CFR 1910.5, the General Industry Standards have no applicability in the
>described academic situation because students are not employees.
>I have not heard of any cases where the General Industry Standards were
>applied to students. Since absence of evidence does not prove absence; I
>would be interested in learning what standards schools have been held to. I
>suppose that a lawyer could argue that failure to follow OSHA standards is
>evidence that reasonable and prudent precautions for structuring a safety
>program were not taken...if a suit were filed after an accident. No school
>would worry about an OSHA inspection unless an employee were put at risk,
>and then, only if a complaint were filed.
>Could it be that kids are in this gray area because they tend to heal fast,
>or maybe because over-exposure symptoms tend to manifest after graduation?
>JSBonnell, Mgr., Env. Svc.
>Barr Laboratories, Inc.

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