OSHA ruled in 2008 that employers are required to pay for their employees’ PPE. OSHA does not specify the method that employers must use to pay for PPE. Many employers maintain a stock of PPE and hand it out as employees need it. Other employers use allowances or reimbursement systems. Any of these methods are acceptable, as long as employees receive the PPE at no cost.

Employers are not required to pay for non-specialty safety toe protective footwear, including steel toe shoes and logger boots [29 CFR 1910.266(d)(1)(v)]. Employers are required though to pay for non-standard “specialty” items (e.g. non-skid shoes for floor strippers).

Employers are not required to pay for everyday items, such as:

  • Street shoes
  • Normal work boots

Employers do have to pay for:

  • Work boots and shoes
  • Special boots for longshoremen working logs
  • Safety glasses and safety goggles
  • Prescription eyewear inserts/lenses for welding and diving helmets
  • Face shields
  • Hard hats
  • Bump caps
  • Ear plugs and muffs
  • Welding gear
  • Firefighting gear
  • Items to protect from exposure to infectious agents
  • Respirators, including SCBA, atmosphere-supplying respirators (escape only)
  • Ladder safety device belts
  • Climbing ensembles used by linemen (e.g. belts and climbing hooks)
  • Window cleaners’ safety straps
  • Personal flotation devices (e.g. life jackets)
  • Encapsulating chemical protective suits
  • Reflective work vests
  • Chemical resistant, rubber insulating and cut-resistant gloves

Employers do not have to pay for:

  • Non-essential rain gear
  • Back belts
  • Long pants
  • Dust mask/respirators when used voluntarily (29 CFR 1910.134)

Source: Karen Hamel, CSP, New Pig Corporation www.newpig.com