OSHA finalizes protective equipment decision

CHICAGO – On Nov. 14, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration established a new rule clarifying the employer/employee responsibilities for payment on personal protective equipment, the National Marine Manufacturers Association said in a statement today. The final rule requires employers to pay for almost all PPE required by OSHA’s general industry, construction and maritime standards.

The final rule does not create new requirements regarding what specific PPE employers must provide. It also contains exemptions for certain ordinary protective equipment such as safety-toe footwear, prescription safety eyewear, everyday clothing and weather-related gear.

“When first proposed back in 1999, NMMA submitted written comments opposing specific provisions of this rule such as requiring employers to pay for prescription eyewear,” said John McKnight, NMMA director of environmental safety and compliance. “Fortunately, the final rule recognized the need to exempt certain PPE and clarify the employer’s responsibilities regarding its possible replacement.”

The new rule states that if an employee chooses to use his or her own PPE, the employer is not required to reimburse the employee; the burden of making sure this equipment meets the OSHA standard remains on the employer. If an employee has lost or intentionally damaged PPE, the employer is not required to pay for its replacement.

OSHA’s rule provides an enforcement deadline of six months from date of publication (Nov. 14, 2007) to allow employers time to change their existing PPE payment polices to comply with the final rule.

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