As of May, 2008, employers must bear the cost for personal safety equipment (PPE) used by their workers. On November 14, OSHA issued a new rule clarifying employer responsibilities for payment of PPE, requiring that employers bear the cost of most PPE mandated by OSHA’s general industry, construction and maritime standards. This rule had been in limbo since it was first proposed in 1999, and the current implementation is thought to be an effort to deter a lawsuit that was filed earlier this year by several unions. One of the controversies around the rule has been whether employers should be required to pay for prescription safety eyewear. The new rule exempts ordinary protective equipment such as prescription eyewear, safety footwear, protective clothing, and weather-related wear. The new rule does not expand the roster of PPE that is required.
OSHA estimates that implementation of the new rule new rule will reduce occupational injuries by as much as 21,000 per year, saving more than $200 million per year in medical and insurance costs. For more details, the full text of the rule is available here: Employer Payment for Personal Protective Equipment (PDF)


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