Many Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations require employers to provide personal protective equipment, when necessary to protect employees from work-related injuries, illnesses and deaths. According to OSHA, business owners should evaluate the workplace to identify and control physical and health hazards. They must identify and provide appropriate PPE to employees, train employees in the use and care of PPE, and maintain PPE, including replacing worn or damaged clothing and equipment. They should also routinely review, update and evaluate the effectiveness of their PPE program.
Section 9 applies to these Regulations because they impose a “specific requirement”, that is, to provide PPE. If the employer requires PPE, it only needs to be available, so it is allowed to provide gloves at the beginning of each shift and have them available at the shift command station, even if it is not convenient or ideal due to the time it takes to obtain a replacement pair when needed. Is the employer required by law to pay cut-resistant gloves and rubber latex gloves for heavy equipment mechanics? In virtually every workplace in the country, employees will need some form of PPE, especially gloves and masks. If the employer agrees with that sentiment, determines that wearing bulletproof vests is the best thing they can do to reduce that risk, and requires their employees to wear vests, the employer would need to select the appropriate vests and pay for them because they are a form of personal protective equipment (PPE).
Even so, if you don't get the PPE you need to do your job safely, or if you've contracted COVID-19 and believe the lack of PPE was to blame, you should contact a workers' or workers' compensation lawyer right away. Specifically, OSHA requires that PPE protect workers from injuries or illnesses that result from contact with chemical, radiological, physical, electrical, mechanical, or other hazards in the workplace. The requirement that employers provide PPE applies when the employer has identified a safety hazard, applied the hierarchy of controls, and determined that PPE will help prevent or reduce the risk of injury or illness. A negligent cause of action does not require proof that an employer intended to cause harm to an employee.
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, this is an extreme example and may not be practical for many situations; but it demonstrates OSHA's intention for employers to look for ways to reduce the risks). before forcing an employee to wear PPE. Damages in a breach of contract lawsuit could include both monetary compensation for medical expenses and other costs, but also an injunction requiring an employer to provide PPE.