I was recently surfing through the OSHA website and came across a new rule change that i hadn’t heard anything about. It’s hidden in the personal protective equipment section 1910.132 – personal protective equipment. Officially, OSHA has taken the position that the employer is required to pay for personal protective equipment – (PPE). Whether or not this is a huge change depends on where you work. Most companies already provide PPE since it’s in their best financial interest to do so. I’ve only worked on a couple of different jobs that PPE wasn’t provided, and i didn’t stay very long. Generally if a company doesn’t provide PPE, it’s a pretty good indicator of how most everything else will be, and that you should be looking for another job.
Specifically, the change is in section 1910.132 paragraph(h) – Payment for protective equipment.
Here are the changes as outlined by OSHA
Except as provided by paragraphs (h)(2) through (h)(6) of this section, the protective equipment, including personal protective equipment (PPE), used to comply with this part, shall be provided by the employer at no cost to employees.
The employer is not required to pay for non-specialty safety-toe protective footwear (including steel-toe shoes or steel-toe boots) and non-specialty prescription safety eyewear, provided that the employer permits such items to be worn off the job-site.
When the employer provides metatarsal guards and allows the employee, at his or her request, to use shoes or boots with built-in metatarsal protection, the employer is not required to reimburse the employee for the shoes or boots.
The employer is not required to pay for:
The logging boots required by 29 CFR 1910.266(d)(1)(v);
Everyday clothing, such as long-sleeve shirts, long pants, street shoes, and normal work boots; or
Ordinary clothing, skin creams, or other items, used solely for protection from weather, such as winter coats, jackets, gloves, parkas, rubber boots, hats, raincoats, ordinary sunglasses, and sunscreen.
The employer must pay for replacement PPE, except when the employee has lost or intentionally damaged the PPE.
Where an employee provides adequate protective equipment he or she owns pursuant to paragraph (b) of this section, the employer may allow the employee to use it and is not required to reimburse the employee for that equipment. The employer shall not require an employee to provide or pay for his or her own PPE, unless the PPE is excepted by paragraphs (h)(2) through (h)(5) of this section.
This paragraph (h) shall become effective on February 13, 2008. Employers must implement the PPE payment requirements no later than May 15, 2008.
Note to § 1910.132(h): When the provisions of another OSHA standard specify whether or not the employer must pay for specific equipment, the payment provisions of that standard shall prevail.
Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on which side you sit on, It doesn’t cover any clothing, work shoes or boots, prescription safety glasses, or anything related to outdoor work. What is new, is that your employer is now required to pay for any PPE that you own that is damaged on the job. In theory this is good news for those of us that often walk on hot metal or slag and quickly go through boots. In practice though, it may be tough to convince your boss that you’ve ruined your boots solely because of work for him.
In any event, it’s good news because it’s no longer a grey area glossed over in the OSHA handbook, and it’s an enforcable rule. 😉