OSHA has reopened the "Pay for PPE" rule, which has gone nowhere since 1998.

Originally thought to be a minor clarification of informal OSHA policy to require employers to pay for PPE, OSHA has consistently kept this final rule from being released.

Now, OSHA has intentionally brought it back to request more information on the issue of what type of equipment fits into the definition of “tool of the trade” — gear usually brought by employees to work sites — and whether or not employers should be responsible for paying for this equipment.

For a long time, "Pay for PPE" was placed under the “long-term action” file in the OSHA regulatory agenda, but has now been moved to the “final rule” category.

Labor thinks this move is another delaying tactic, while industry believes it means a final rule is imminent.

According to the American Industrial Hygiene Association, there is word that OSHA may prepare a rule by early fall that would require employers to ensure that all PPE meet current consensus standards.