After eight years in the making, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released a Final Rule setting out when an employer must pay for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). If there are no further complications, the rule will go into effect no later than May 15, 2008.
The new rule states that an employer must pay for all required PPE that its employees use. However, the rule does not impose any new requirements on employers to provide PPE or to pay for any equipment where none has been required before.
Main Requirements of the Rule:
• It does not require payment for uniforms, items worn to keep clean, or other items that are not PPE;
• When employees use PPE that they own, employers will not be required to reimburse the employees for the PPE. But the rule states that employers cannot require employees to provide their own PPE. If employees use PPE that is theirs, the use must be purely voluntary;
• There are exceptions for certain ordinary equipment such as safety-toe footwear, prescription safety eyewear, everyday clothing, weather-related gear, long sleeve shirts, long pants, logging boots, and similar items which the employer may require, and which may even have some protective value. The employer does not have to pay for shoes with integrated metatarsal protection as long as the employer provides and pays for metatarsal guards that attach to shoes.
• Employers may not require employees to pay for replacement PPE. However, when an employee loses or intentionally damages PPE, the employer will not be required to pay for its replacement. An employee’s abuse or loss of PPE beyond normal wear and tear, occasional loss, or accidental damage will not serve as a defense to a citation resulting from and employee’s failure to use PPE. The rule states that employers may discipline employees for loss or abuse of safety equipment.
• OSHA concluded that the imposition of this new rule does not interfere with collective bargaining.
Employers are cautioned to revise existing PPE payment policies to comply with this new rule before enforcement begins. If you have any questions, please contact Trey Wood with Alaniz & Schraeder, L.L.P.
Trey has made it his professional mission to assist clients in maximizing employee relations and minimizing employee claims. This means being attentive to a client's needs and providing the type of advice that will fit within the framework of an individual client's own philosophy.