Employer Must Bargain Over Safety Clothing Rule


The National Labor Relations Board found that an employer violated the National Labor Relations Act when it implemented a rule requiring employees to wear flame-resistant clothing at all times without providing notice or an opportunity to bargain to the Union.

In Orchids Paper Products Company and United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union, AFL-CIO, the employer had electrical cabinets that required an arc flash analysis. The employer ordered arc flash rated protective clothing for its maintenance technicians, and the technicians were directed to wear the clothing at all times, not just when working near the cabinets. The union challenged the unilateral implementation of this rule. Work rules requiring the use of safety and personal protection equipment are mandatory subjects of bargaining, and the employer violated the Act when it instituted the rule without providing the Union with notice or an opportunity to bargain over the decision or its effects.