• OSHA Says Employers Must Pay Tab for PPE
  • Karen

    Karen D. Hamel CSP, CET, WACH, is a regulatory compliance professional, trainer and technical writer for New Pig. She has more than 25 years of experience helping EHS professionals find solutions to meet EPA, OSHA and DOT regulations and has had more than 200 articles published on a variety of EHS topics. Karen is a Certified Safety Professional (CSP), Certified Environmental health and Safety Trainer (CET), Walkway Auditor Certificate Holder (WACH), OSHA-Authorized Outreach Trainer for General Industry, Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) trainer and hazmat technician. She serves on the Blair County, PA LEPC. Her specialties include a wide variety of environmental, safety, emergency response, risk management, DOT and NIMS topics. She conducts trainings and seminars at national conferences and webinars for several national organizations. She can be reached at 1-800-HOT-HOGS (468-4647) or by email karenea@newpig.com.

  • Neil LeMastersays:
    01/01/2018 at 9:49 am Reply

    Does the employer have to pay for the eye doctor if the employee is forced to get prescription for inserts in gas mask.

    • Karensays:
      01/02/2018 at 9:45 am Reply

      Hi Neil, thanks for your comment!

      Although employers do need to pay for actual prescription eye wear inserts or lenses that fit into full-face respirators, there is no regulation that states that the employer must pay for eye exams.

      Most eye care professionals can work with an existing prescription to fit lenses into respirator eye wear inserts. Note that the lenses should meet ANSI standards for impact resistance.

      Please let us know if you have any other questions!

      Best,
      Karen

  • Mattsays:
    01/05/2018 at 10:57 am Reply

    Can used PPE/fall protection be re-issued to new employees or do all new hired employees have to get brand new equipment?

    • Karensays:
      01/08/2018 at 7:15 pm Reply

      Hi Matt, thanks for your question.

      OSHA prohibits the reuse of some types of PPE. For example, disposable dust masks are designed for one-time use and therefore cannot be reissued to any employee.

      There are also certain types of PPE that are more personal in nature and really should not be shared – even if OSHA does not specifically prohibit it. Chemical gloves are one example. Another is specialty safety footwear. If it has been lightly used, it may technically still be serviceable. However, everyone walks and stands a little bit differently in their shoes. A used pair may technically satisfy the requirement to provide foot protection, but they may not be comfortable for the employee who has to wear them all day, and that discomfort could potentially contribute to an incident.

      When it comes to fall protection equipment, OSHA does not specifically prohibit the reuse of equipment. However, they do prohibit the reuse of any equipment that is frayed, worn-out, exposed to chemicals, is excessively dirty or has been involved in a fall. No matter who is wearing it, the equipment must fit properly, be in good condition and be appropriate for the risks and hazards that the employee will face.

      Before fall protection equipment could be reissued to a new employee, the employer would need to verify that it has not been involved in a fall and is in every way suitable for the conditions that the new employee would be facing. Unless the former employee was supervised at all times with daily logs documenting that the protective equipment wasn’t subjected to a fall or other significant event that would compromise its integrity, it may be difficult to do this. It also doesn’t necessarily show a good-faith effort in providing the new employee with the correct tools and equipment to do his/her job.

      Hope this info helps! If you have any additional questions please let us know!

      Thanks,
      Karen

  • Tom Nardonesays:
    05/04/2018 at 1:29 pm Reply

    If an employer requires employees to wear a bulletproof vest, does the employer need to provide it? What if the employer does not require vests, but they are commonly used in the industry? One example might be for armored car drivers or armed security employees.

    • Karensays:
      05/15/2018 at 11:48 am Reply

      Hi Tom,

      Thanks for your comment. Taking one step back: It is the employer’s responsibility to evaluate the workplace for safety hazards or risks. When a hazard or risk is found, the employer must first look for ways to eliminate that hazard or risk. When that is not possible, they must have a plan that addresses how they will minimize the employee’s exposure to it.

      In your example of armored car drivers or armed security employees, most safety professionals would agree that there is definitely a risk of those types of employees being shot, and a bullet-proof vest is certainly one of the first things that comes to mind. If the employer agrees with that sentiment, determines that wearing bulletproof vests is the best that they can do to reduce that risk and requires their employees to wear vests, the employer would be required to select appropriate vests and pay for them because they are a form of personal protective equipment (PPE).

      But, before the employer starts searching for the perfect vest: just because vests are commonly used in these industries doesn’t make them a requirement under federal regulation and doesn’t make them the perfect solution. Remember that the employer is required to look for ways to eliminate hazards. If there is a way to do that, the employer may choose another method of protection other than vests if they feel that it provides the necessary protection. Personal protective equipment should always be used as a last resort, and only when engineering and administrative controls are not sufficient.

      For example, if an armed security employee is stationed in an open lobby exposing him to potential harm, the employer may choose to close the lobby, limit access, and put the employee behind bullet-proof glass instead of requiring him/her to wear a bullet-proof vest. This is an extreme example, and it may not be practical for many situations; but it demonstrates OSHA’s intent for employers to look for ways to reduce hazards before requiring an employee to wear PPE. On the other hand, they may choose to make the lobby alterations and still see a need for their employee to wear a vest. It all comes down to understanding the hazard and choosing the best possible protection for the employee.

      Please let us know if you have any other questions.

      Thanks,
      Karen

  • Justinsays:
    05/06/2019 at 11:05 am Reply

    Are employers required to accommodate a Doctor’s note/prescription for a specialty boot, if the boot is outside the requirements of the boot program (ie safety toe, metatarsal, boot length etc.)? Would the employer be required to pay for the boots?

    • Isabella Andersensays:
      05/28/2019 at 1:14 pm Reply

      Hi there,

      Thanks for reaching out. The requirement for employers to provide PPE applies when the employer has identified a safety hazard, has applied the hierarchy of controls and determined that PPE will help to prevent or reduce the risk of injury or illness.

      If the prescribed specialty boot does not provide a risk reduction benefit, the employer would not be required under this particular regulation to provide the boot. However, there may be other regulations that apply to some situations, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act. Depending upon the employee’s condition and the nature of the prescription, this may, in some circumstances, be considered a reasonable accommodation.

      Thanks,
      Isabella

  • Jacobsays:
    05/31/2019 at 5:04 pm Reply

    Karen,
    Started a new job in the same profession I’ve been in the last 12 years recently.
    I have a few questions if you could please clarify. My current employer is definitely not doing things the way they should But a few items are very different from my last employer. My last employer required us to do monthly safety training, and weekly safety meetings So I was well trained there, but my new employer dose nothing.

    1. Is an employer required by law to pay for cut resistant gloves, and rubber Latex gloves for heavy equipment mechanics. Ie: we are in oil, grease, gas, diesel all day ect…

    2. My current employer pays for our uniforms, and they ( and OSHA) require steel toe boots because we work around and on heavy equipment. But they refuse to pay anything on steel toe footwear. Are they obligated by law to pay/provide them?

    3. We also have to block up equipment that is off the ground as required by OSHA, Also a lot of times we have to chain up hydraulics ie: buckets , forklift masts ect… but they are telling me I HAVE TO buy my own chains. I was under the assumption that chains are part of PPE in our field of work. (My last employer provided brand new chains and blocks)

    Thank you for your time !
    – Jacob

    • Isabella Andersensays:
      07/10/2019 at 2:38 pm Reply

      Hi Jacob,

      Employers are required to identify workplace hazards. When a hazard is identified, they must put a plan in place to eliminate the risk of that hazard harming an employee, or reduce that risk as much as possible. They can do that in a number of ways. If they feel that cut-resistant gloves and rubber gloves will help to protect their employees from hand injuries, then they must pay for those items and train employees on the hazard, how the PPE helps to protect them, how to use it properly, how to care for it and when it needs to be replaced.

      OSHA requires employers to pay for most PPE, including gloves. They do make an exception, though, for steel-toed shoes/boots if the employer allows them to be worn off of the worksite. However, if the employer does not choose and pay for them, they are still obligated to make sure that whatever shoes/boots you purchase are appropriate for the task.

      Blocking and securing equipment is done to meet the requirements of OSHA regulations to prevent harm. They aren’t exactly PPE, but if they are a specified element of the company’s plan/procedures/policies to eliminate or reduce the risk of a hazard, the company needs to make that equipment available.

      Thanks,
      Isabella

  • Cpl. Leonard J Wolonssays:
    07/18/2019 at 11:47 am Reply

    I am a union rep for 118 Members assigned to a County Jail (Wayne county Michigan). Is management required to provide ISO 3200 (biohazard resistant) gloves at every duty station? We had a shortage of gloves to include several days where we had none available, our Capt. has given an order that my Members are issued 1 pair of gloves at the start of the shift and if they need additional gloves you have to go to shift command to get them (on the 1st floor of our 7 floor facility). If we use are 1 pair and we have to respond to a medical emergency we would have to run from our assigned floor to shift command and then to the medical emergency.

    Thanking you in advance,

    Cpl. Leonard J Wolons
    Chief Steward Div. II

    • Isabella Andersensays:
      09/23/2019 at 11:11 am Reply

      Hi there, thanks for your question!

      First, let’s clarify who is requiring these gloves. It is the employer’s responsibility to identify safety hazards in their workplace and put plans, procedures, policies and safeguards in place to protect employees from those hazards. If the employer has evaluated a particular hazard and determined that gloves are part of their program to protect their employees from that hazard, then the gloves must be available at all times. (Note that no particular style/brand/design of glove is required by OSHA. The employer determines this based upon their particular circumstances.) If it is an employee desiring the gloves to be issued and worn, the employer technically does not need to provide or stock them.

      If the gloves are, indeed, part of the employer’s protection program, OSHA does not have a requirement for gloves to be stocked in any particular area. If PPE is required by the employer, it only needs to be available, so providing gloves at the start of each shift and having them available at the shift command station is permissible, even though it may not be convenient or ideal because of the time it takes to get a replacement pair when they’re needed.

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