OSHA plans to publish a proposal mandating employers pay for all required personal protective equipment (PPE) but steel-toed shoes and prescription eyewear. The exception to the excluded items are logging boots; if employees are required to wear them, employers must pay for them.
The agency claims it always required employers to pay for PPE, but a 1997 decision by the Occupational Safety and Review Commission reversed the agency's policy.
In deciding Secretary of Labor v. Union Tank Car Co., the review commission determined that OSHA generally cannot require employers to pay for any PPE. The regulatory language in 29 CFR 1910.132 (a) states that PPE "shall be provided, used and maintained... ." It does not clearly state employers must pay for the PPE, the commission said.
To ensure employers do pay for PPE, the agency has revised its policy to clearly state employers are responsible for paying for the equipment.