Employers to Pay for Workers' Safety Equipment, OSHA Rules
The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) ruled last week that employers must provide and pay for the personal protective equipment (PPE) — such as helmets to protect against head injury from falling objects — that is used by their employees in order to comply with an OSHA safety standard.
Under the rule, employers must pay for the required PPE no later than May 15.
The new rule, issued Nov. 15, only addresses who pays for PPE, not the types of PPE that must be used. Under the rule, all PPE, with few exceptions, must be provided at no cost to employees.
The exceptions, the clothing and equipment employers are not required to pay for, include:
- Non-specialty safety-toe protective footwear, including steel-toe shoes or steel-toe boots
- Non-specialty prescription safety eyewear
- Ordinary clothing, such as shirts, pants, street shoes and normal work boots
- Weather-related gear, skin creams or other items such as winter coats, jackets, gloves, parkas, rubber boots, hats, raincoats, ordinary sunglasses and sunscreen.
The OSHA rule does not require that employers pay for uniforms, caps or other clothing worn solely to identify a person as an employee.
It also doesn’t require employers to pay for clothing or other items worn for cleanliness but unrelated to employee safety and health — such as blue jeans, aprons or other apparel worn solely to prevent clothing and skin from becoming soiled.
The rule states that employers must pay for replacement PPE under established wear-and-tear standards for particular PPE. Employers, however, will not have to pay for PPE that an employee has lost or intentionally damaged.
Lastly, the rule states that if the employee does note return the employer’s equipment, “nothing in the final rule prevents the employer from requiring the employee pay for it or take reasonable steps to retrieve the PPE, in a manner that does not conflict with federal, state or local laws concerning such actions.”
Employee deposits on PPE are acceptable, but the OSHA rule also encourages that employers provide incentives for the equipment’s return, so long as return program does not circumvent the rule resulting in an employee involuntarily paying for their PPE.
To read the OSHA employer-paid PPE final rule, click here.
For more information, e-mail Rob Matuga at NAHB, or call him at 800-368-5242 x8507.
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The “Recognizing the Big-Four Safety Hazards for the Home Building Industry” course from The NAHB University of Housing shows how to comply with OSHA regulations and to recognize and minimize those hazards most likely to cause accidents.
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