Do I Need to Provide My Workers with PPE?

You want to keep your workers safe, but personal protective equipment or PPE can be expensive. So, who should foot the bill? The employer or the employee? Here’s a brief overview of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA’s) current PPE regulations.

Do I Need to Provide My Workers with PPE?

In most cases, the answer is YES! As of May 15, 2008, OSHA passed a new rule requiring employers to provide necessary PPE at no cost to employees. Although this is a federal regulation, individual states may have even stricter standards.

What Must Companies Buy?

According to the ruling, employers must pay for any PPE needed to comply with OSHA standards. This may include:

  • Hard hats,
  • Hearing protection,
  • Goggles and/or safety glasses,
  • Face shields,
  • Specialty footwear (steel-toe rubber boots or shoes with non-slip soles),
  • Metatarsal guards or boots,
  • Work gloves (for hazards such as lacerations, abrasions, and chemicals),
  • Respirators,
  • Prescription eyewear inserts/lenses for full-face respirators,
  • Chemical protective equipment,
  • Fall protection equipment,
  • Firefighting equipment (helmet, gloves, boots, proximity suits and full gear),
  • Welding helmets, goggles, and shields.

What Should Employees Plan to Buy?

Safety equipment not required by OSHA’s standards is the responsibility of the employee. These may be regular protective items such as raincoats or non-essential PPE the worker would like to wear. However, if an employer asks their workers to leave any of this equipment on-site, the company should cover the cost. Examples include:

  • Everyday clothing (long-sleeve shirts, pants, street shoes, and normal work boots),
  • Flame-resistant clothing,
  • Uniforms not related to worker safety,
  • Outdoor clothing (coats, jackets, gloves, rubber boots, hats, and sunglasses),
  • Sunscreen,
  • Lifting belts because their value in protecting the back is questionable,
  • Non-specialty safety-toe protective footwear,
  • Non-specialty prescription safety eyewear,
  • Respirators are worn voluntarily, and
  • Hairnets and gloves worn by food workers for customer safety.

What If an Employee Would Rather Bring Their Own PPE?

Some workers prefer to use their own personal PPE. If the employee volunteers to purchase their own equipment and the company agrees, this is an acceptable arrangement. Nevertheless, OSHA still requires the employer to make sure the equipment is adequate and properly maintained.

Who Pays for Worn-Out and/or Damaged PPE?

In most cases, the company is responsible for normal wear and tear as well as broken or disposable components. In addition, PPE damaged in an accident must be replaced by the employer. The exception to this rule would be if an employee intentionally lost or damaged any company-owned PPE.

Are You Looking for More Ways to Keep Your Workers Safe?

FirstStaff publishes weekly blog posts on topics ranging from recent OSHA updates to the best safety shoes. And, if you’re looking for reliable light industrial employees, we can help with that too. Learn more about the staffing solutions we offer!

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