Q&A - Employer footwear programs
Describe some of the popular programs employers set up for providing employees foot protection that can also be used off-the-job. Do employers ordinarily pay for one pair of boots or shoes per year, split the cost, or make employees pay?
ANSWERS:Many different types of safety shoe programs exist. The more popular programs benefit both the employee and employer by increasing compliance and overall safety awareness.
With the rising costs of health care, a safety shoe program that reduces one injury can easily pay for itself. Some companies will realize savings in insurance simply from having a safety shoe policy in place.
The most popular program is where the employer pays for the entire amount of the shoe. Some companies will set a dollar limit or a percentage on the amount they will subsidize toward the cost of a safety shoe. Any amount over that subsidy is the responsibility of the employee.
A payroll deduction program along with a partial subsidy is another popular way in which many companies will provide safety shoes to their employees.
The above three programs are the most popular among companies. It also allows the safety director to be in control of the program by maintaining compliance, making quality products available to the employee and making the program convenient and easy for everyone involved.
Greg Skeen, Regional Sales Manager, Red Wing Shoe Company
Red Wing offers these services to make a footwear program hassle-free: Customized reporting; billing programs tailored to meet customer needs; and payroll deduction. Red Wing's distribution in the U.S includes 4,176 retail locations and 180 mobile shoe trucks.
Another real question is : How do you entice your employees to voluntarily purchase the safety shoes?
1) Offer Payroll Deduction Plans so the employees donâ€™t have to pay cash for the footwear and can pay for them over multiple pay periods.
2) You can entice them by offering a large selection of stylish shoes that look good in and out of the work place. Safety directors must find shoes that are comfortable, look good and are affordable for all employees from the production line to the materials handler to the QC tech walking the production floor.
3) Subsidizing the program is a strong technique to increase your employee participation. Most payroll deduction plans offered by companies do not offer any monetary help. The entire purchase price of the shoes is paid by the employees.
4) Allow employees to purchase more than one pair of shoes. Many companies that start voluntary Shoes For Crews programs have employees asking: "Can I buy more than one pair?" Many employees buy a second and third pair for outside of work. Many employees prefer to alternate which safety shoes they wear to work each day. This increases the durability of the footwear, because the alternate pair of shoes can dry out.
5) The shoes should accomplish their stated mission. If a safety director sets up a slip-resistant shoe program, the footwear better actually grip slippery floors or you have lost all credibility in the eyes of the employees.
Many times a solution to one problem leads to another. For example: floor care is important to the sanitary conditions of the facility, and washing and disinfecting the floors is important. But, during this process, the floors are often wet and slippery, which leads to employee slips and falls.
James Van Buren, Director of Sales, Shoes For Crews
Shoe For Crews attracts safety directors to its slip-resistant shoe program through its long list of customer testimonials; $5,000 Slip & Fall Accident Warranty; and 60-day wear and compare satisfaction guarantee.
SIDEBAR: What OSHA saysOSHA standards have generally clearly stated that the employer must provide PPE and ensure that employees wear it. However, regulatory language used regarding the employer's obligation to pay for the PPE has varied.
OSHA has proposed to revise its PPE standards to clarify who is required to pay for required PPE and under what circumstances. According to the proposal, employers would be required to provide all OSHA-required PPE at no cost to employees, with the following exceptions: the employer would not need to pay for safety-toe protective footwear or prescription safety eyewear if all three of the following conditions are met: 1) The employer permits such footwear or eyewear to be worn off the job-site; 2) The footwear or eyewear is not used in a manner that renders it unsafe for use off the job-site (for example, contaminated safety-toe footwear would not be permitted to be worn off a job-site); and 3) Such footwear or eyewear is not designed for special use on the job. Employers are also not required to pay for the logging boots required by 29 CFR 1910.266(d)(1)(v).
The "Pay for PPE" proposal has languished for years without action. It's now listed as a long-term action item on OSHA's regulatory calendar.