Explore the rules on who must pay when it comes to Personal Protective Equipment, or PPE. (Hint: It’s not employees!)

Many different jobs require the use of Personal Protective Equipment, or PPE, by employees. The purpose of any form of PPE is to protect the employee from being injured while on the job. In 2008, OSHA instituted a new rule that said that employers must pay for employees’ PPE in most instances. Explore the details and ensure your company is in compliance. 

Employers and PPE

PPE is a necessity in cases where hazards cannot be mitigated by other methods. Since employers require employees to work with hazards, the company must buy PPE, such as gloves, foot and eye protection, protective hearing protection (earplugs, muffs), hard hats, and respirators. to protect employees.

According to OSHA, employers are required to:

  • Perform a “hazard assessment” of the workplace to identify and control physical and health hazards. 
  • Identify and provide appropriate PPE for employees. 
  • Train employees in the use and care of the PPE. 
  • Maintain PPE, including replacing worn or damaged PPE. 
  • Periodically review, update, and evaluate the effectiveness of the PPE program.

Employees are required to wear their PPE correctly, keep it clean and maintained, attend safety training concerning PPE use, and to inform a supervisor when PPE is damaged or needs to be replaced. Employees can only pay for PPE when they choose to do so, such as preferring to use PPE they already own. In short, companies must pay for the PPE that is necessary to do a job safely.

There are only a few instances where employers are not required to pay for PPE. According to OSHA, these items include:

  • Non-specialty safety-toe protective footwear (including steel-toe shoes or boots) and nonspecialty prescription safety eyewear provided that the employer permits such items to be worn off the job site. 
  • Everyday clothing, such as long-sleeve shirts, long pants, street shoes, and normal work boots.  
  • Ordinary clothing, skin creams, or other items, used solely for protection from weather, such as winter coats, jackets, gloves, parkas, rubber boots, hats, raincoats, ordinary sunglasses, and sunscreen. 
  • Items such as hair nets and gloves worn by food workers for consumer safety. (Pre-Covid-19) 
  • Lifting belts because their value in protecting the back is questionable. 
  • When the employee has lost or intentionally damaged the PPE and it must be replaced.

Safe Keeper and Safe Climber carry a line of fall protection products, safety ladders, and accessories that are necessary PPE for working at heights