The OSHA ruling that employers must pay for personal protective equipment (PPE) goes into effect in mid-February. The ruling doesn’t add any equipment to the list of what PPE an employer must provide; it only clarifies that, with a few exceptions, the employer must pay for the PPE.

In their statement, issued last November, OSHA states that the increased compliance with this small ruling will likely result in over 21,000 fewer workplace injuries every year.

Remember, it is the employer’s responsibility to provide a safe workplace, and that includes all necessary safety gear required to do the job. The exceptions to this requirement are now quite specific and boil down to:

– Safety-toe protective footwear

– Prescription safety eyewear

– Everyday clothing such as long pants, long-sleeve shirts and normal work boots

– Weather protective clothing

When a specific safety item is of a personal nature and is used off the job site, the ruling allows for individual negotiation between employer and employee. Whether the employer pays up front for the items or reimburses the employee after the fact is also left up to the discretion of the two parties.

Employees still have the option of using their own safety gear, and the employer is under no obligation to replace it with the exact make or model, but employers need to remember that they are responsible for the condition and compliance of the safety gear worn by their employees.

Hopefully, this ruling won’t make any significant financial change to most companies. Let’s also hope that this ruling reminds all of us to take the extra time to make sure everyone on the job site is equipped with all proper safety gear.