Who Pays for the Personal Protective Equipment You Use?

OSHA Decides That Companies Must Cover the Cost of Most PPE

personal protective equipmentAlmost a decade of confusion about who pays for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – employer or employee – came to an end in the U.S. in February 2008 with OSHA’s ruling that, generally, the company must pay for PPE. The compliance deadline is May 15, 2008.

The final OSHA document about PPE coverage is about 200 pages long, so you’d be best to consult it directly for specifics, but here is a breakdown of some decisions:

The company must pay for:

  • Shoe covers, toe caps and metatarsal guards (these are the toe and front of foot coverings)
  • Non-prescription eye protection
  • Prescription eyewear inserts/lenses for full face respirators, welding and diving helmets
  • Goggles
  • Rubber boots with steel toes
  • Face shields
  • Fire Fighting PPE
  • Hard hat
  • Cut-proof gloves used to prevent lacerations
  • Hearing protection
  • Non-specialty gloves used for protection from dermatitis severe cuts or abrasions.
  • Chemical resistant gloves/aprons/clothing
  • Fall protection
  • Electrical protection
  • Chemical protection
  • Electrically insulated tools
  • Chemical resistant gloves/aprons/clothing
  • Reflective work vests
  • Respiratory protection
  • Climbing apparel such as belts and hooks
  • Fire resistant apparel
  • Life jackets
  • Head protection
  • Skin protection
  • Firefighting, welding, and laboratory PPE

The company does NOT have to pay for:

  • Any clothing, skin creams or other items used solely for protection from the weather
  • Certain logging boots
  • Any uniforms, caps, or clothing that is worn for the purpose of identifying a person as an employee.
  • Items that are worn to prevent clothing or skin from becoming soiled.
  • Specialized tools
  • Specialty footwear with built-in metatarsal protection when employer provides detachable metatarsal guards.
  • Normal work boots
  • Normal prescription eyewear
  • Items used by employees to stay clean and are unrelated to safety or health are not considered to be PPE such as denim coveralls, aprons or other apparel
  • Plastic or rubber gloves worn by food service employees

Company Property

Keep in mind that since the company paid for the PPE, it belongs to the company, and employees may not be allowed to take these items home, or anywhere else not approved by the company.

Employees may still supply their own equipment if they wish, but the company is responsible for ensuring all equipment meets proper safety codes. One example of this is when an employee will supply their own boots with integral metatarsal guarding versus the guards supplied by the company, which are worn over boots. Brand name coloured safety glasses are also very common.

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