Today's News

Respirator manufacturers get relief in asbestos lawsuits (1/19)

January 19, 2009
/ Print / Reprints /
ShareMore
/ Text Size+

The International Safety Equipment Association (ISEA) applauded a legal interpretation from OSHA that will bring clarity and predictability to respirator manufacturers’ requirements for product certification and preserve the availability of important worker protection, according to an ISEA press release.

The OSHA statement, contained in a December 31, 2008 letter from Acting Assistant Secretary of Labor Thomas M. Stohler in response to a request from the ISEA, clarifies that federal certification of respirators preempts contradictory state court claims.

Respirator manufacturers have faced a surge of hundreds of thousands of state court tort claims in recent years, many of them vaguely alleging design and warning defects despite NIOSH approval. OSHA’s interpretation of the law will provide needed guidance to courts considering such lawsuits.

“This ruling from OSHA recognizes the importance of having a single national set of performance requirements that is not subject to being modified or contradicted by subjective standards that are produced at litigation,” said ISEA president Dan Shipp.

OSHA standards to protect workers against airborne contaminants require the use of respirators certified by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) as meeting exacting specifications and labeling requirements. NIOSH standards represent a delicate balancing between the need to filter out harmful particles while allowing a sufficient inflow of breathable air.

“Respirator manufacturers have become innocent bystanders in asbestos and silica litigation, in which they are named among dozens of other companies in a search for a solvent defendant – not because they are at fault,” said Shipp. “The respirator manufacturers did not make the hazardous material in such lawsuits, but sought to protect workers from it.”

While respirator manufacturers can and have successfully defended against such claims, this litigation comes at a steep price to the public. Already, one major manufacturer has ceased production of the most widely used N-95 respirators for the U.S. industrial market.

Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to ISHN.

You must login or register in order to post a comment.

Multimedia

Videos

Image Galleries

Scenes from the World of Safety

Sights, signs & symbols from the National Safety Congress & Expo held in San Diego, CA, September 15-18

11/4/14 2:00 pm EST

Eye Injuries: You rarely see them coming. Practical Solutions for reducing injuries to the eye.

The 3M Eye Injury Reduction webinar will provide an examination of how to help solve eye injuries in the workplace. This issue continues to challenge virtually every industry, and the solution is often times multifaceted. 3M will share some new tools and approaches to help you in solving this issue.

ISHN Magazine

ISHN1014_cover.jpg

2014 October

This issue features articles about PPE safety and OSHA standards

Table Of Contents Subscribe

THE ISHN STORE

M:\General Shared\__AEC Store Katie Z\AEC Store\Images\ISHN\safetyfourth.jpg
Safety Engineering, 4th Edition

A practical, solutions-driven reference, Safety Engineering, 4th edition, has been completely revised and updated to reflect many of today’s issues in safety.

More Products

For Distributors Only - SEPTEMBER 2014

ISHN FDO SEPTEMBER 2014For Distributors Only is ISHN's niche brand standard-sized magazine supplement aimed at an audience of 2,000 U.S. distributors that sell safety products. Circulation only goes to distributors. CHECK OUT THE SEPTEMBER 2014 ISSUE OF FDO HERE

STAY CONNECTED

Facebook logo Twitter YouTubeLinkedIn Google + icon

ishn infographics

2012 US workplace deathsCheck out ISHN's new Infographic page! Learn more about worker safety through these interactive images. CLICK HERE to view the page.