Regulations Clarify Who Should Pay for Safety Equipment

As safety regulations and standards have improved over the years, employers have been more effective at supplying the proper safety equipment needed by employees to protect themselves. Similarly, employees have developed better habits with regards to wearing and using the proper safety equipment in their daily work routine. On occasion, this progression towards higher safety standards has surfaced the question of who should pay for the safety supplies. Historically, many OSHA standards and regulations required that the employer provide the employees with protective equipment when such equipment was necessary to protect employees from job-related injuries or illnesses. These requirements included the standard safety products such as hard hats, safety glasses, gloves, respiratory protection, protective clothing, and fall protection equipment. However, some of these provisions did not make it clear that the employer should pay for the cost of providing all safety items.
Although most companies recognized that the cost of providing the safety equipment can be much lower than the expense associated with lost productivity, insurance premiums, insurance claims, lawsuits, and other issues that arise when employees are injured, not all companies shared this perspective. In 2008, the regulations governing the use of personal protection equipment were clarified by a new standard that requires employers to pay for the safety equipment provided to employees. The new regulations do not require employers to provide safety supplies where none has been required before; the rule simply stipulates that the employer must pay for required safety equipment, except in the limited cases outlined in the standard.
Generally speaking, employers must pay for the minimum level of safety equipment as required in the OSHA or other regulations. If an employer decides to upgrade the safety supplies to meet the requirements of a standard, the employer must pay for the upgraded safety items. If an employer provides safety equipment at no cost and an employee asks to use different safety products and the employer decides to allow him or her to do so, then the employer is not required to pay for the items.
Several other outstanding questions were clarified in the revised regulations. For example, employers are required to pay to replace standard personal protection equipment except for limited circumstances such as when an employee has lost or intentionally damaged the issued safety items. In addition, employers are not responsible for reimbursing an employee for any safety supplies he or she may already own. Employers industrial air compressor are also not required to pay for upgraded or personalized safety equipment requested by an employee, provided the employer provides safety products to the employee that perform as effectively as the items requested by the employee. The regulation concludes by discussing which employees qualify for this rule, what payment terms are acceptable, the regulation’s effect on union contracts, and its environmental impact.
These new regulations answer several questions that have long been debated. Just as importantly, what materials are used to they also continue to support the trends towards improved safety and fewer industrial accidents.…

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