On November 14, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced a new rule clarifying the employer/employee responsibilities for payment of personal protective equipment (PPE). The final rule requires employers to pay for almost all PPE required by OSHA's general industry, construction, and maritime standards. It does not, however, create new requirements regarding what specific PPE employers must provide. It also contains exemptions for certain ordinary protective equipment, such as safety-toe footwear, prescription safety eyewear, everyday clothing, and weather-related gear.
The new rule states that if employee choose to use their own PPE, the employer is not required to reimburse the employee; the burden of making sure this equipment meets the OSHA standard, however, remains on the employer. If an employee has lost or intentionally damaged PPE, the employer is not required to pay for its replacement. These requirements address hard hats, gloves, goggles, safety shoes, safety glasses, welding helmets and goggles, faceshields, chemical protective equipment, fall protection equipment, and so forth.
OSHA's rule provides an enforcement deadline of six months from date of publication (11/14/2007) to allow employers time to change their existing PPE payment polices to comply with the final ruling.