B-123223, JUN. 22, 1955

B-123223: Jun 22, 1955

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TO THE POSTMASTER GENERAL: REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF MARCH 7. GENERAL POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT APPROPRIATIONS FOR SUPPLIES AND EQUIPMENT ARE AVAILABLE FOR THE FURNISHING OF COVERALLS TO MECHANICS EMPLOYED IN GARAGES AND MAIL EQUIPMENT SHOPS. THE EXPENDITURE UNDER CONSIDERATION IS EXPLAINED IN YOUR LETTER AS FOLLOWS: "MECHANICS IN GARAGES AND MAIL EQUIPMENT SHOPS ARE REQUIRED TO DAILY OPERATE OR BE IN CLOSE PROXIMITY TO LATHES. SWEATERS AND COATS ARE DANGEROUS AROUND MOVING MACHINERY. THE EXPERIENCE OF OUR BUREAU OF FACILITIES IS THAT ACCIDENTS HAVE OCCURRED AND WILL OCCUR BY REASON OF IMPROPER WEARING APPAREL IN THESE SHOPS. A LOSS OF TIME AND MONEY BY THE GOVERNMENT IS INVOLVED.

B-123223, JUN. 22, 1955

TO THE POSTMASTER GENERAL:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF MARCH 7, 1955, REQUESTING A DECISION AS TO WHETHER UNDER THE AUTHORITY OF SECTION 13 OF THE ACT OF AUGUST 2, 1946, 60 STAT. 809, 5 U.S.C. 118G, GENERAL POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT APPROPRIATIONS FOR SUPPLIES AND EQUIPMENT ARE AVAILABLE FOR THE FURNISHING OF COVERALLS TO MECHANICS EMPLOYED IN GARAGES AND MAIL EQUIPMENT SHOPS, WHOSE DUTIES REQUIRE OPERATION OF, OR CLOSE PROXIMITY TO, MOVING MACHINERY.

THE REFERRED-TO SECTION PROVIDES AS FOLLOWS:

"SEC. 13. APPROPRIATIONS AVAILABLE FOR THE PROCUREMENT OF SUPPLIES AND MATERIAL OR EQUIPMENT SHALL BE AVAILABLE FOR THE PURCHASE AND MAINTENANCE OF SPECIAL CLOTHING AND EQUIPMENT FOR THE PROTECTION OF PERSONNEL IN THE PERFORMANCE OF THEIR ASSIGNED TASKS.'

THE EXPENDITURE UNDER CONSIDERATION IS EXPLAINED IN YOUR LETTER AS FOLLOWS:

"MECHANICS IN GARAGES AND MAIL EQUIPMENT SHOPS ARE REQUIRED TO DAILY OPERATE OR BE IN CLOSE PROXIMITY TO LATHES, PRESSES, SAWS, GEARS, FLYWHEELS, ELECTRIC MOTORS, AND SIMILAR MACHINERY. THESE MEN IN MOST INSTANCES REPORT FOR WORK IN ALL SORTS OF WORN AND TORN CLOTHING. TATTERED SHIRTS, SWEATERS AND COATS ARE DANGEROUS AROUND MOVING MACHINERY. THE EXPERIENCE OF OUR BUREAU OF FACILITIES IS THAT ACCIDENTS HAVE OCCURRED AND WILL OCCUR BY REASON OF IMPROPER WEARING APPAREL IN THESE SHOPS. PERSONAL INJURY TO A WORKMAN CAUSES A CORRESPONDING PRODUCTION DECREASE, AND HE USES HIS SICK LEAVE OR FILES A CLAIM FOR COMPENSATORY PAYMENT UNDER THE EMPLOYEES COMPENSATION ACT. A LOSS OF TIME AND MONEY BY THE GOVERNMENT IS INVOLVED. IN THE OPINION OF THE BUREAU OF FACILITIES, SOME TYPE OF COVERALL IS NEEDED NOT PRIMARILY FOR THE CONVENIENCE OR PROTECTION OF THE EMPLOYEE, BUT FOR THE SUCCESSFUL ACCOMPLISHMENT OF THE WORK INVOLVED.'

THE QUESTION AS TO THE USE OF GOVERNMENT FUNDS FOR THE PURCHASE OF PERSONAL FURNISHINGS OR WEARING APPAREL TO BE USED BY EMPLOYEES IN CONNECTION WITH THEIR OFFICIAL DUTIES HAS BEEN THE SUBJECT OF NUMEROUS DECISIONS OF THIS OFFICE. IN 3 COMP. GEN. 433, IT WAS HELD THAT, GENERALLY, THE TEST TO BE APPLIED WITH REFERENCE TO SUCH PURCHASES, IN THE ABSENCE OF SPECIFIC AUTHORITY THEREFORE, IS WHETHER THE EXPENDITURES ARE ESSENTIAL FROM THE STANDPOINT OF CARRYING OUT THE OBJECT OF THE APPROPRIATION INVOLVED, AND WHETHER THE OFFICIAL EQUIPMENT OR WEARING APPAREL IS SUCH AS THE EMPLOYEE REASONABLY MIGHT BE EXPECTED TO FURNISH AS A PART OF THE PERSONAL EQUIPMENT NECESSARY TO ENABLE HIM TO PERFORM THE REGULAR DUTIES OF HIS POSITION. SEE ALSO 32 COMP. GEN. 229.

THE EXPLANATION GIVEN IN YOUR LETTER DOES NOT JUSTIFY THE CONCLUSION THAT COVERALLS ARE ESSENTIAL FOR THE SUCCESSFUL ACCOMPLISHMENT OF THE ASSIGNED TASKS OF THE INVOLVED EMPLOYEES. IN THE ABSENCE OF SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES, EVERY EMPLOYEE OF THE GOVERNMENT IS REQUIRED TO PRESENT HIMSELF FOR DUTY PROPERLY ATTIRED ACCORDING TO THE REQUIREMENTS OF HIS POSITION. THE HAZARDS PRESENTED BY WORK PERFORMED IN CLOSE PROXIMITY TO MOVING MACHINERY CAN BE ADEQUATELY PROTECTED AGAINST BY THE WEARING OF APPAREL THAT IS NOT TORN OR TATTERED, AND HENCE, IT IS NOT ESSENTIAL FOR THE CARRYING OUT OF THE WORK UNDER CONSIDERATION THAT COVERALLS BE FURNISHED.

MOREOVER, ORDINARY COVERALLS, AS DISTINGUISHED FROM CLOTHING AND EQUIPMENT DESIGNED TO PROTECT THE WEARER AGAINST THE HAZARDS OF FIRE, CHEMICALS, OR EXPLOSIVES, ETC., MAY NOT BE CONSIDERED ,SPECIAL CLOTHING AND EQUIPMENT" WITHIN THE PURVIEW OF THE ABOVE-QUOTED SECTION 13 AS IS AUTHORIZED TO BE FURNISHED WITHOUT SPECIFIC STATUTORY AUTHORITY. SEE IN THIS CONNECTION THE DISCUSSION OF THE LEGISLATIVE HISTORY OF THAT PROVISION IN 32 COMP. GEN. 229, 230 REFERRED TO IN YOUR LETTER. COVERALLS ARE USUAL ARTICLES OF WEARING APPAREL WHICH INDIVIDUALS IN ANY WALK OF LIFE MAY POSSESS FOR USE IN CONNECTION WITH THEIR WORK OR OTHERWISE. HOLD THAT SUCH APPAREL IS FOR FURNISHING BY THE GOVERNMENT WOULD DO VIOLENCE TO THE WELL ESTABLISHED RULES IN REGARD TO PERSONAL FURNISHINGS AND OPEN THE DOOR, IN THE ABSENCE OF SPECIFIC STATUTORY AUTHORITY, FOR THE FURNISHING OF OTHER ARTICLES OF CLOTHING AND EQUIPMENT NOT DIRECTLY RELATED AND ESSENTIAL TO THE PERFORMANCE OF THE DUTIES OF THE EMPLOYEES. CF. 21 COMP. GEN. 731.

WITH REGARD TO THE CONTENTION THAT STATUTES AUTHORIZING EXPENDITURES FOR ACCIDENT PREVENTION PURPOSES (SECTION 203 OF THE POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT APPROPRIATION ACT, 1954, 67 STAT. 71, AND 5 U.S.C. 784 (C) ( PROVIDE AUTHORITY FOR THE FURNISHING OF THE INVOLVED COVERALLS, IT SHOULD BE POINTED OUT, AS STATED EARLIER, THAT THE HAZARDS PRESENTED BY THE OCCUPATION UNDER CONSIDERATION CAN BE ADEQUATELY PROTECTED AGAINST BY THE WEARING OF CLOTHING THAT IS IN PROPER CONDITION AND DO NOT REQUIRE THE FURNISHING, AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE, OF COVERALLS, THE GENERALLY ACCEPTED PURPOSE OF WHICH IS NOT ACCIDENT PREVENTION.

ACCORDINGLY, IT MUST BE CONCLUDED THAT IN THE ABSENCE OF SPECIFIC STATUTORY AUTHORITY, GENERAL POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT APPROPRIATIONS FOR SUPPLIES AND EQUIPMENT ARE NOT AVAILABLE FOR THE FURNISHING OF COVERALLS TO THE INVOLVED EMPLOYEES.

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