Understanding PPE and the price of safety

J.J. Keller & Associates
Tags: workplace safety

We get a lot of questions regarding workplace safety and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). One question that seems to come up time and again deals with who must pay for PPE. PPE can be expensive to purchase, and it can get damaged or employees may lose it.

29 CFR 1910.132 was revised to address employer payment for PPE. Under the revised rule, all PPE, with few exceptions, will be provided at no cost to the employee. The rule addresses only the issue of who pays for PPE. It does not require employers to provide PPE where none has been required before. Nor does it require payment for uniforms, caps, or other clothing worn solely to identify a person as an employee.

Additionally, the rule does not require payment for items worn:

  • To keep employees clean for purposes unrelated to safety or health such as blue jeans, aprons or other apparel, when worn solely to prevent clothing and/or skin from becoming soiled; and
  • For product safety, consumer safety, or patient safety and health, rather than employee safety and health such as requiring food service employees to wear hairnets for food safety purposes.

Employers must pay for any PPE used to comply with one of the PPE requirements in an OSHA standard. If the PPE is not required, then the employer doesn't have to pay for it.

When an employer selects a specific type of PPE to be used at the workplace to comply with a standard, the employer is required to pay for it. If employees must keep non-specialty safety-toe protective footwear and non-specialty prescription safety eyewear at the workplace, the employer must pay for the items.

How an employer handles situations where an employee has lost or caused damage to required PPEis up to that employer. It should be handled just as any other situation when an employee fails to follow workplace rules.

Understanding PPE with KOL
KellerOnline has some tools that can help you better understand the issue of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Within the Personal Protective Equipment topic in KOL's Topic Index, you will find ez Explanations on Personal Protective Equipmentand on Payment for personal protective equipment.

KOL's PPE topic also offers Frequently Asked Questions, a link to the regulations themselves, and links to OSHA letters of interpretation. Users can also access the Preambles to the final rule, Compliance Directives, Standard Directives, CDC Recommendations and Labeling Requirements.

The Training Center contains Best Practice articles, archived Webcasts, and Employee Videos. In addition, the Training Center provides you with both classroom-based and online training programs to help you get your employees up to speed on PPE. The Interactive Tools provides you with templates to help you develop your written plans.

If you still have questions, you can submit them through the Personal Assistant feature and have them answered within one business day.