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New OSHA Rule Clarifies Employers' Obligation to Pay for Protective Equipment

    Client Alerts
  • December 07, 2007


Earlier this month, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued final rules dealing with employers’ responsibilities to provide and to pay for personal protective equipment (PPE) used by employees on the job.  The new PPE rules are the result of a proposed rule in 1999 that took over eight years to finalize.  The rules make clear employers’ obligation to pay for required PPE in all but a few circumstances.


Under the new rules, employees can be required to provide and pay for their own non-specialty safety footwear (i.e., steel-toed boots), logging boots, everyday clothing, sunscreen, winter gear, and prescription safety eyewear.  Employees can voluntarily substitute their own PPE in lieu of that provided by the employer, and the employer is not required to reimburse them for this equipment.


The regulations also make clear that employers must pay for replacement PPE except in the case of employee loss or intentional damage.  Employers have until May 15, 2008 to come into compliance with these new PPE rules.  The standard covers general industry, as well as construction, shipbuilding, and other industries covered under OSHA rules.