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Employer Payment For Personal Protective Equipment – How Does This New OSHA Ruling Affect You?

The new OSHA ruling concerning employer payment for personal protective equipment becomes effective on February 13, 2008. OSHA has extended the compliance deadline until May 15, 2008. Although some time is given for employers to become fully compliant, reviewing the requirements and determining the process for compliance is best started now.According to OSHA, this ruling is applicable to general industry, long shoring, and marine terminals. Basically, if an employer must provide personal protective equipment then this ruling applies to them as well.This ruling does not effect in any way the PPE that the employer is required to provide. The OSHA standards relating to what PPE an employer must provide depending on the type of work has not changed. This ruling does not require any additional PPE for any industry. It only specifies that PPE must be provided to each employee at no additional cost to the employee.The employer must provide at no cost to the employee the PPE that is required by OSHA standards. There are a few exceptions to this ruling covered below. The following are examples of PPE that the employer must pay for.
Rubber boots with steel toes

Shoe covers-toe caps and metatarsal guards

Non-prescription eye protection

Prescription eyewear inserts/lenses for full face respirators, welding and diving helmets

Goggles

Face shields

Fire Fighting PPE

Hard hat

Hearing protection

Non-specialty gloves that are used for protection from dermatitis severe cuts or abrasions. (The employer does not have to pay for these gloves if they are used for cleanliness or protection from the weather when safety is not the purpose for the gloves)

Chemical resistant gloves/aprons/clothing

Fall protection
The employer is not required to pay for an item that is not PPE or is not required by OSHA standards. The following are items that the employer is not required to pay for.
Any clothing, skin creams or other items used solely for protection from the weather.

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 for preventing fire, electrical, etc. hazards

Specialty boots or shoes with built in metatarsal protection when employer provides detachable metatarsal guards.

Items that are worn for product or consumer safety or patient safety and health rather than employee safety and health. Such as hair and beard nets, when not implemented for machine guarding.

Non-specialty protective footwear and Non-specialty prescription eyewear.

Back belts
Employers will not only be required to pay for the initial issuance of PPE, but also to provide and pay for replacements. The only exception to this is if the employee has lost or intentionally damaged the PPE. However, since the employer is bearing the cost of PPE, they also retain ownership unless they choose to convey ownership to the employee. Therefore, the employer may prohibit employees from taking employer – owned PPE away from the workplace.Except as otherwise stated in specific employer provided OSHA PPE standards, the employer need not pay for or supply a multiple selection of PPE or to pay for or provide for upgraded PPE that is not required for the job. As long as the employer is providing the PPE that is required, they do not need to supply any additional selections. It is a matter between the employer and employee if an employee wants to provide their own personal PPE that is different, upgraded, or personalized from what the employer provides. The only stipulation on this is that said PPE must not provide less protection, and the employer must ensure the PPE’s adequacy and maintenance.