The AFL-CIO and the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) have filed a lawsuit against the Department of Labor, asking a court to order the agency to issue a final rule requiring employers to pay for personal protective equipment (PPE).

In 1999, the agency proposed a rule that would require that employers pay for all types of PPE required under OSHA standards, except for safety shoes, prescription safety eyewear, and logging boots in certain circumstances. However, the agency never issued a final rule.

In 2004, the agency said it was still evaluating the proposal and requested more comments on the proposal from the public. Specifically, the agency wanted to know how the rule should address types of PPE that are typically supplied by the employee, taken from jobsite to jobsite or from employer to employer, and considered to be "tools of the trade," especially in industries with high turnover.

In the lawsuit, the unions allege that OSHA's failure to complete the rule is putting workers in danger. The lawsuit asks the court to issue an order directing OSHA to complete the protective gear rule within 60 days of the court's order.