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Must you pay for employees’ work boots and other personal safety gear?

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in Employment Law,Human Resources

There’s good news for employers in the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) recently announced final rule on the kind of personal protective equipment (PPE) employers must pay for. Unless OSHA regs specifically require it, employees must pay for their own gear.

The rule answers questions that have perplexed employers for several years. Now it’s clear: Employers don’t have to pay for most personal gear that employees wear on the job. 

“This final rule will clarify who is responsible for paying for PPE, which OSHA anticipates will lead to greater compliance and potential avoidance of thousands of workplace injuries each year,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Edwin G. Foulke, Jr.

The new rule makes clear that, with rare exceptions, employers don’t have to pay for:

  • Steel-toed shoes or boots
  • Sturdy work shoes
  • Lineman’s boots and logging boots
  • Non-specialty prescription safety eyewear
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Ordinary cold-weather gear such as coats, parkas, cold-weather gloves and winter boots
  • Ordinary rain gear
  • Back belts
  • Long-sleeved shirts and pants
  • Dust masks and respirators not required by OSHA regulations.

Because many OSHA regulations require protection for workers’ heads, employers will likely foot the bill for most hard hats worn on the job.

The new rule will take effect on Feb. 13, 2008, and employers must comply by May 15, 2008.

You can download the full OSHA rule on PPE here.

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