Who Pays for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)?

Who Pays for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Who Pays for PPE?

With few exceptions, OSHA requires employers to pay for personal protective equipment used to comply with OSHA standards. Employers cannot require workers to provide their own PPE.

Employees who use their own PPE must do so voluntarily. Even if an employee provides his or her own PPE, the employer must still ensure the equipment is adequate to protect the worker from hazards at the workplace.

Employers must pay for the following:

  • metatarsal foot protection
  • rubber boots with steel toes
  • non-prescription eye protection
  • prescription eyewear inserts/lenses for full face respirators
  • goggles and face shields
  • firefighting PPE (helmet, gloves, boots, proximity suits, full gear)
  • hard hats
  • hearing protection
  • welding PPE

Payment Exceptions under the OSHA Rule

Employers are not required to pay for some PPE in certain circumstances:

  • Non-specialty safety-toe protective footwear (including steel-toe shoes or boots) and non-specialty prescription safety eyewear provided that the employer permits such items to be worn off the job site. OSHA based this decision on the fact that this type of equipment is very personal, is often used outside the workplace, and that it is taken by workers from jobsite to jobsite and employer to employer.
  • Everyday clothing, such as long-sleeve shirts, long pants, street shoes, and normal work boots.
  • Ordinary clothing, skin creams, or other items, used solely for protection from weather, such as winter coats, jackets, gloves, parkas, rubber boots, hats, raincoats, ordinary sunglasses, and sunscreen.
  • Items such as hair nets and gloves worn by food workers for consumer safety.
  • Lifting belts because their value in protecting the back is questionable.
  • When the employee has lost or intentionally damaged the PPE and it must be replaced.

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