• OSHA Says Employers Must Pay Tab for PPE
  • Karen

    Karen D. Hamel, CSP, WACH, is a regulatory compliance professional, trainer and technical writer for New Pig. She has more than 22 years of experience helping EHS professionals find solutions to meet EPA, OSHA and DOT regulations and has had more than 100 articles published on a variety of EHS topics. Karen is a Certified Safety Professional (CSP), Walkway Auditor Certificate Holder (WACH), Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) trainer and hazmat technician. She also serves on the Blair County, Pa., LEPC and has completed a variety of environmental, safety, emergency response, DOT and NIMS courses, including Planning Section Chief. She has conducted seminars at national conferences and webinars for ASSE and other 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!


  • 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!


  • 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.


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