A new directive that went into effect February 10 gives OSHA investigators instructions on how to determine whether employers are complying with the agency's personal protective equipment (PPE) standards.

Enforcement Guidance for Personal Protective Equipment in General Industry clarifies what type of PPE employers must provide at no cost to workers and when employers are required and not required to pay for PPE. The directive also provides guidance that allows employers to use PPE that complies with current consensus standards and updates PPE enforcement policies based on court and review commission decisions.

The agency's personal protective equipment standards require employers to provide – at no cost to workers – protective equipment, such as goggles and face shields that fit properly without restricting vision; earplugs and earmuffs when they will reduce noise to acceptable levels and are less costly than administrative and engineering controls; and respirators to protect workers from exposure to air contaminants.

Additionally, the directive lists PPE and other items exempted from the employer payment requirements and includes questions and answers useful in clarifying PPE payment concerns.

The directive is available at: osha.gov/OshDoc/Directive_pdf/CPL_02-01-050.pdf.