With few exceptions, OSHA requires employers to pay for personal protective equipment when used to comply with OSHA standards. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was established by Congress in 1970 to ensure safe working conditions for employees in the United States. As part of this mission, OSHA has enacted several personal protective equipment (PPE) laws and regulations that affect employers and small business owners. OSHA PPE laws generally require employers to purchase and supply everything necessary (PPE) necessary to support employees.
By providing this equipment, employers cannot pass on the cost to their employees or require employees to provide their own PPE. Business owners have a responsibility to provide a safe workplace, including personal protective equipment to prevent employee injuries and illnesses. However, employers are required to pay for clothing used to protect employees from excessive artificial heat or cold created by the work environment (for example, OSHA believes that when employees pay for their own PPE, they are more likely to purchase the wrong equipment, use PPE beyond its expected lifespan, and avoid buy the equipment at all. In addition to PPE, it is the employer's responsibility to explore other safety options to improve employee safety.
When human error occurs or a machine malfunctions, PPE protection is often the employee's last defense to remaining unharmed. While face coverings, such as cloth masks, are not classified as PPE under OSHA standards, many employers choose to provide them to employees as a proactive measure to keep employees safe and healthy while on the job. No matter who is wearing it, the equipment must fit properly, be in good condition, and be adequate for the risks and hazards the employee will face. Protective equipment is important because it keeps employees healthy and on the job, and business owners with safer workplaces can often benefit from lower workers' compensation insurance premiums.
Personal protective equipment (PPE) is essential and is often required to protect employees from safety hazards while on the job. Employers must comply with these initiatives and stock additional cleaning and PPE supplies as needed. It all comes down to understanding the danger and choosing the best possible protection for the employee. It is the employee's responsibility to demonstrate working knowledge and understanding of PPE before being allowed to perform work that requires PPE.
This may mean that employees need different types of PPE to perform different work tasks, or that different employees within the company need different types of protective equipment.